Monday, October 31, 2005 — 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: The Chair wishes to inform the House of a change that has been made to the Order Paper. Motion No. 492 has not been placed on the Order Paper because it is outdated.
We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In recognition of National UNICEF Day
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the House to pay tribute to National UNICEF Day. October 31 is National UNICEF Day. The famous trick-or-treat for UNICEF campaign instils a spirit of giving in Canadian children and allows them to improve the lives of children around the world.
Since 1955, generations of Canadian children have helped UNICEF help the children most in need in the world. UNICEF Canada is celebrating its 50th anniversary of trick-or-treat for UNICEF this year, and congratulations to them, Mr. Speaker.
Donations from the trick-or-treat UNICEF campaign help fund and manage programs that support health, education, equality and protection for children. This year’s trick-or-treat for UNICEF campaign focuses on building child-friendly schools for Africa. These schools will have strong links to their communities where children can learn and play in secure and healthy spaces with access to clean water and sanitation — things that most Canadians take for granted.
I would like to urge all members of this Legislature and the Yukon public to have a bowl of small change at hand this evening and contribute when a costumed youngster holds out a UNICEF box.
Speaker: Are there any further tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
Are there returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I have for tabling the public accounts for 2004-05.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I have for tabling two letters addressed to the members of the opposition regarding the whistle-blower legislation.
Mr. McRobb: I have for tabling two letters.
Speaker: Are there any further documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Petition No. 9 — received
Clerk: Mr. Speaker and honourable members of the Assembly, I have had the honour to review a petition, being Petition No. 9 of the First Session of the 31st Legislative Assembly, as presented by the leader of the official opposition on October 27, 2005.
The petitioners pose a number of questions respecting the ratification process followed in respect to the Umbrella Final Agreement, dated May 29, 1993. Anne – Patrick said “1991” but the script says “1993”. We will have to ask Floyd. They ask the Yukon Legislative Assembly to request the minister responsible for the land claims and implementation secretariat to provide “a reasonably detailed written response” to those questions. It should be noted that the rules and practices of the Legislative Assembly permit a response to a petition to be provided in either written or verbal formal.
This petition with that qualification as to the manner in which it may be responded to meets the requirements as to form of the Standing Orders of the Yukon Legislative Assembly.
Speaker: Petition No. 9, accordingly, is deemed to be read and received.
Are there any further petitions to be presented?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Cathers: I rise in the House today to give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the federal Liberal government to renew its funding commitment to the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Society of Yukon, which the Liberal government is currently planning to cancel effective March 31, 2006.
Ms. Duncan: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Minister of Health and Social Services to examine new incentives, including forgivable tuition loans for medical students, to help relieve the Yukon’s shortage of health care professionals.
Mr. McRobb: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the government House leader to work cooperatively with his opposition counterparts to identify ways to make better use of the Legislature’s time during the current sitting by adopting more effective ways of dealing with matters such as tributes, motions and ministerial statements.
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Premier and the minister responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board to replace the current chair of the Workers’ Compensation Act review with an MLA who has the ability, the will and the authority to bring this long-delayed process back on track and complete the assignment in a timely and effective manner.
Notices of motion for the production of papers
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion for the production of papers:
THAT this House do issue an order for the return of all letters to management provided by the auditors to the trustee of the City of Dawson in the last two years.
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mrs. Peter: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Yukon Party government to develop and implement a comprehensive family violence strategy that responds to the needs of women living with FASD and those who are victims of past violence and at risk of being violent themselves, with an emphasis on programs in rural Yukon.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Is there a statement by a minister?
Speaker: Prior to Question Period, the Chair would like to make a statement about certain events that occurred during our last sitting day.
As members are aware, the Chair intervened twice after members quoted unparliamentary language from statements made by persons outside the House or from documents. It is a principle of the rules of debate that members do not do indirectly what they may not do directly. One aspect of this is that members may not evade the rules regarding unparliamentary language by quoting them from another source. Members must take responsibility for the words they use in debate, whether they originate with that member or not.
In this regard, I would remind the members of the ruling from the Chair on December 13, 2004, which read, in part, “If a member wishes to cite or quote from a document that contains unparliamentary language or does not adhere to proper form, the member must paraphrase any offending portions so that they conform to the rules and forms of this Legislative Assembly.”
The Chair is also concerned that members are making statements that question the honesty and integrity of other members. As House of Commons Procedure and Practice reminds us, “The proceedings of the House are based on a long-standing tradition of respect for the integrity of all members.” The Chair appreciates that members have differing views on issues of public policy. However, to cite annotation 494 of Beauchesne’s Parlimentary Rules and Forms, there are times when the House will have to “accept two contradictory accounts of the same incident.” Members are free to put forward their views of events, but in doing so must not draw into question the integrity of other members who hold a different view.
The Chair thanks members in advance for their cooperation. We will now proceed with Question Period.
Question re: Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition
Mr. McRobb: We learned how good the government-to-government relations really are with the Yukon Party government when the chiefs walked out on the Premier during his October 3 meeting. I have some questions for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources with respect to this government’s troubled relations with the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition.
Last spring’s budget included an allocation of $200,000 for the group; however, according to sources, that money has not yet been received. The Premier said his government would continue to support the APC but said nothing about when it would receive the rest of its funding that was already approved in this House. Perhaps the minister can shed some light.
Why has this government chosen to play games with the APC’s funding?
Hon. Mr. Lang: In answering the member opposite, I’d like to remind the House that the monies that we forward to the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition — so the coalition can go to the federal government and get the resources they do need for the overview of the Alaska Highway pipeline — have certainly flowed. Our Premier has committed that we will continue to fund the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition so the federal government will come to the mark and do what is right by our First Nations.
I’d like to remind the House and Yukoners that the Northwest Territories First Nation got $500 million to do exactly that.
We are part of Canada; we will fund the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition so they can go to Ottawa and get their fair share of the resources that will be needed to have a social, economic and environmental overview of the pipeline. We’re working with the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition and we will fund it as necessary, and we will work with them in Ottawa to get a fair share of the resources the aboriginals will need for funding so we can move forward on this Alaska Highway pipeline.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, we in this House approved the $200,000 last spring.
On the radio the acting chair of the APC said that this government is withholding money as a form of not-so-subtle persuasion. He added that they talk the talk but certainly don’t walk it.
The APC needs its funding in order to function. This is clearly a prerequisite to the Yukon becoming pipeline ready. My question to the minister: how can it possibly be pipeline ready without the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition on side?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I would like to remind Yukoners that the party opposite voted against that money. In answering the member opposite’s question, we are working with the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition — understanding that there are seven members. We are working in a positive fashion with them, and we will do so in the future. But we will be working with the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition.
Mr. McRobb: Well, the minister is wrong, Mr. Speaker. We supported the money to the APC. It was projects like the Dawson City bridge and so on that the Yukon can’t afford — that’s why we didn’t vote for that budget. I would suggest that the minister refrain from taking the advice of the Member for Klondike.
This government has had three years to get its pipeline house in order, but what do we have? Complete disarray. The Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition is telling us how it really is while the Premier is Outside telling outsiders how it is in his own mind. Can the minister now tell us when the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition can expect to receive the money it was promised in the budget passed in May?
Hon. Mr. Lang: I remind the member opposite that the member opposite voted against the budget last year that had the $200,000 in it. You can’t pick and choose which ones you like. You either vote for the budget or you don’t.
Mr. Speaker, we are working with the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition. We have committed resources, and it will continue. I remind the member opposite and all Yukoners that there are seven First Nations on the affected line. We are concerned that all Yukoners be involved in this process, and this government will do exactly that. The money will flow in a timely fashion.
Question re: Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, with government-to-government relations like this, it’s no wonder why the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition representatives and chiefs walked out of the meeting on October 3. Thursday I tabled the letter dated the following day from the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition to the Premier. It related a number of serious concerns with how this government is conducting its government-to-government relations. That letter also described how this government was trying to force the APC into accepting its idea of forming a pipeline commission. That claim was backed up on this morning’s radio news by the acting chair of the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition.
Can the minister tell this House why he supports such a disrespectful approach to dealing with the First Nation members of the APC?
Hon. Mr. Lang: In correcting the member opposite, we are working with the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition. These are challenges we are going to meet. That’s why the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition was put together — so we could address these issues — and we are going to address these issues as we move through the process, Mr. Speaker.
I remind the member opposite: there are seven First Nations involved in the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition at the moment. It has to expand. It has to take a look at other First Nations and how they are going to be involved. And then, of course, is the bigger question, one of the questions: how are the rest of Yukoners going to be involved? So I think these challenges will be met by managing and working forward. We are working with the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition.
Mr. McRobb: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think Yukoners are figuring out the difference between what this government says and what this government really does.
Now, the importance of these issues and how they are handled by the Yukon government is paramount to the success of the pipeline project. There is a lot at stake here. Unfortunately this government doesn’t seem to get it. The APC has warned this government that it sees us repeating the same mistakes made in the planning for the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline project. Let me quote from the October 4 letter: “We believe that your actions could well precipitate the deadlock situation in which the Mackenzie Valley gas producers, governments and the aboriginal community find themselves.” What corrective action will this minister take to avoid falling into that same trap?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, in correcting the member opposite, these are two different pipelines, and we can learn from the Mackenzie proposal. We certainly are going to move forward with the Pipeline Coalition. We’re going to move forward with informing Yukoners, getting input back from Yukoners. We’re working on that. These are challenges this government will face in managing the issue. The world is not a perfect place, and different people have different views. That’s why we’re going forward with our proposals, working with First Nations in the route, and taking baby steps so eventually we can take bigger steps into overseeing what is going to happen — what are the economic benefits and also downsides of any pipeline that is built through our jurisdiction? I remind the member opposite there is no pipeline at the moment. As far as a deadlock is concerned, there is no deadlock. We will work with those issues as they arise, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. McRobb: It’s rather disappointing to discover that after three years this government and this minister are still taking baby steps. Earlier today I tabled two more letters related to the APC. The August 16 letter sets out the detailed process for a pipeline commission this government is pushing.
The September 29 letter from the Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief corrected the Premier on the reference to his involvement. The acting chair of the APC has said that the Premier is trying to control the whole ball game, and that he feels a pipeline commission would just be another YTG-run program where First Nations would be forced to just follow along. Maybe that’s what the minister wants.
Will the minister commit to starting afresh, in full consultation with the APC and other Yukoners on choosing an appropriate process for the pipeline?
Hon. Mr. Lang: We are doing just that. I’d like to remind the member opposite and Yukoners that we are working with all groups in the Yukon to minimize the impact on our society if in fact the pipeline goes through our jurisdiction.
I remind the member opposite: we aren’t building a pipeline, and we as a jurisdiction will not make that decision. All we’re telling Yukoners, and guaranteeing them, is that down the road, if that decision is made, we want to maximize our benefits and minimize our impact. That’s what we’re doing. We’re working with First Nations that are in the route, through the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition; we’re working with funding them so they can go to Ottawa and get more funding, exactly like their counterpart in Northwest Territories is getting. That’s where we come into the scenario; we’re working with First Nations to get our equal share of the resources that it is going to take to address these issues for First Nations in the territory.
We are a public government; we have a responsibility to the public, so the public has to be involved in this. We will do that with management. As far as the member opposite’s insinuation that we are not working with the coalition, I beg to differ. We are working very positively; we’re addressing the challenges as they come in front of us, and we will move on.
Question re: School enrolment
Ms. Duncan: I have some questions for the Minister of Education regarding future development of schools within the City of Whitehorse.
Every year, enrolment numbers go up and down as families move in and out of neighbourhoods. One area of the city where numbers have been increasing steadily is the Copper Ridge-Granger area. The reason why is obvious. Over the last couple of years more than 200 new homes have gone up in this area. There are new young families and with them come new babies.
Elijah Smith Elementary School is completely full. It cannot accept any more students. In fact, some children are now being bused out of the neighbourhood to schools in other areas of the city. What is the government’s plan to deal with the lack of school facilities in this part of Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for that question. This is an issue that didn’t begin yesterday. It has been an issue in the territory for some time.
It is true that the student numbers have fluctuated. Maybe it is time that the government takes a look at placement, because it’s true, there are some schools that are filled to capacity while others have lots of room. So this is an issue that will be reviewed in the future.
Ms. Duncan: Well, surely the minister agrees that going to an elementary school in your own neighbourhood is far better than putting a five-year-old on a bus and sending him across town. Dozens of children have been turned away from Elijah Smith Elementary School over the last year. Many, many kids are being bused or driven from Granger or Copper Ridge to other parts of the city. That number is going to continue to grow. What is the Minister of Education going to do about the lack of school facilities in this part of Whitehorse?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would first remind the member opposite that their government did have this very issue during their term. The member opposite also knows that there are students from different areas who travel to different parts of the city to go to school. I know people even from my own First Nation who don’t go to Elijah Smith but go to different schools throughout the city, Takhini being one of them, and I think that’s their choice at this time.
Ms. Duncan: When the Copper Ridge subdivision was being built, land was set aside on Falcon Drive for a new school. That land is still there; it’s still available; it’s an educational reserve. The Department of Education, the Government of Yukon, owns the plans that were used to build the Holy Family School and the Hidden Valley School. The government owns these plans.
The minister has watched this part of the city grow and the demands increase. What is the minister going to do about it? What does the minister intend to do about the shortage of school space in this part of the city? Busing children all over Whitehorse is not an acceptable answer. What does the minister intend to do about it?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The department does recognize there is a growing issue here. I can state for the record that as recently as a year and a half ago there was a fair amount of space available in the Elijah Smith Elementary School. Now, with more houses being built and more people moving into the area, there is a bit of a strain there, and it will be monitored by the department and decisions will be made accordingly.
Question re: Water quality
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the minister responsible for Community Services. All Yukoners who have lived with boil-water advisories can empathize with the people of Ontario’s Kashechewan Reserve, who have had to leave their community to seek medical care, because their drinking water is affecting their health. The supplementary budget the government tabled last week shows $1.5 million less than what we voted for in May, which is basically cutting the budget for sewage and water projects in half.
The Teslin sewage main project is going ahead, but a number of other projects were out there, and those communities appear to be getting shortchanged now, even though there is federal funding through the municipal rural infrastructure fund that can be tapped to improve sewage disposal and drinking water systems. Will the minister explain why money for such essential services has been cut from the budget when the government is so flush with cash?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Mr. Speaker, a lot of it is to do with being able to get the monies through for this year. Secondly, we’re also looking at continuing on with our important sewage and water, as the member opposite has indicated, through the Canada strategic infrastructure fund process, which we are currently working on with two communities.
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, there seems to be no shortage of money for pet projects for the Premier or the Deputy Premier, and a whole list of projects was touted by this government. The MRIF, the municipal rural infrastructure fund, was announced last January 17; that money was for sewage and water projects. Again, on May 19, they issued another press release announcing a whole bunch of projects, and it appears that all those projects aren’t going to go ahead. Meanwhile, the health of people in communities may be compromised, because their sewage systems aren’t working properly or because they’re poorly located, such as is the case in Ross River.
What is the minister going to do to ensure that necessary funding is in place to bring the crumbling sewage and water systems in our rural communities up to 21st century standards, or is he going to ask the federal government to put the Disaster Assistance Response Team on standby?
Hon. Mr. Hart: DART, as the member opposite refers to it, probably won’t be coming to the Yukon any time soon. But I will assure the member opposite that we, as a government, are looking at the sewage and water systems for all our rural communities on a regular basis. We have prioritized our specific projects for those who really need some assistance at the moment, and we continue to do so.
I also believe that we have our budgeting process that will take place, and we continue to support those projects. We are working with our environmental reviews and we are getting that done. In fact we are in the process of doing an RFP for some of these facilities in our rural areas as we speak.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, the minister still hasn’t explained why they are voting $1.5 million less in this supplementary.
Now, it’s estimated that some 85 First Nation communities across Canada are living with boil-water advisories; this is disgraceful. I am sure that the minister will agree — we can all agree on that.
Can the minister tell us how many Yukon communities have had boil-water advisories over the past three years, and what is he doing to prevent any future situations that could lead to that outcome?
Hon. Mr. Hart: For the member opposite, as I previously stated in my first response, we can’t spend the money in the middle of winter for that type of project. So we are carrying on with that process. That money will be revoted in the new year when we can commence our construction of that very important facility for our rural areas.
As far as boiling water for the Yukon, we have had a couple advisories specific to some small communities this year, but we have acted on them accordingly. We are very concerned about the quality of water in all our communities — not just the rural communities, but here in Whitehorse also. We are working with all our communities, including our non-incorporated communities, to try to ensure that we have the best possible potable water available to them so that they are not going to be in danger, as the member opposite has indicated.
Question re: Family violence prevention
Mrs. Peter: Three Yukon women have faced court charges for the deaths of other people in the past short while. All three grew up in rural communities. In all three cases there’s evidence of past family violence or sexual abuse. Fetal alcohol syndrome disorder is also a factor in one of these cases.
What is the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate doing to prevent these tragedies in the future?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Family violence prevention is a priority of this government. It has been and will continue to be so. What we as a government can and will continue to do is to provide victims of abuse with counselling, information and support at all times. In fact, that’s exactly what our Department of Justice does, through their family violence prevention unit — providing victim services through the women’s program, also providing offenders with the necessary treatment to help them change their behaviours and to learn new ways of dealing with these serious issues.
There are other ways in which our government, together with stakeholders and the community, are engaging upon the long-term education prevention campaign on family violence, which we are actually about to kick off tomorrow, recognizing November as the official month for Women Abuse Prevention Month. Together we will continue to speak for our actions by continuing to offer services, education and community-driven initiatives.
Mrs. Peter: Unlike the Women’s Directorate, most of the organizations it supports are poorly funded. The money does not reach the communities where help is most needed. Most of them work with volunteers. Most of them can afford to only skim the surface of the problem. Very few work directly with women who have been abused and who may abuse others.
The directorate’s responsibility is to educate the public. The answer does not lie in awareness campaigns and in a B.C.-based help line.
Does the minister have a concrete plan to effectively respond to the real needs of young women at risk?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: We have, in fact, increased resources to our family violence prevention unit, again, through the women’s program and through training opportunities for our front-line workers who deal with this dire situation day in and day out. We have increased clinical supervision through the Department of Justice. Through the Women’s Directorate, we have commenced a number of different actions including allocating $100,000 to provide funding for violence prevention initiatives for aboriginal women.
This fall, safety kits will be introduced that include safety planning information for women living in violent situations throughout the territory. We continue to work with Justice on a whole host of public education initiatives. Again, I mentioned domestic violence treatment option court, which is an innovative way of combining court-ordered processes with education and treatment. This has been expanded to communities such as Watson Lake.
We have expanded victim services throughout our communities as well. We are expanding services to mental health clients in our justice system. As well, in our draft action plan, through the substance abuse strategy that the Women’s Directorate worked very closely with, we are targeting initiatives. A wellness fund for wellness initiatives in the communities —
Speaker: Order please. Please conclude your answer. Thank you.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: There are also funds available for young women at risk.
Mrs. Peter: Substantial support is needed, particularly in our rural communities. Family violence is increasing in the territory. Exposure to family violence leads to more violence. This is a very alarming situation for all of us. Must we wait for more tragedies to occur before we recognize the need? Will the minister commit to begin working instead of talking with the ministers of Education, Justice and Health and Social Services, to create a government-wide strategy that will actually prevent similar strategies in the future?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: It has been my priority as the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate, from day one, as well as from the day I was elected in 2002, to respond to the needs of victims of abuse, to assist the perpetrators with counselling support services to change learned behaviours.
It has been my priority to work with all the respective departments, and that is exactly what we have been doing over the last number of years: working with the Department of Health and Social Services to provide services through FASD — children with FASD, adults and so forth, with the services through our diagnostic team of health care professionals, dollars for teaching professionals throughout the territory, working with the Department of Justice, working on family violence prevention through the unit, through victim services. Again, we are providing and extending our services to the communities. I refer to the domestic violence treatment option, for example, our counselling, clinical supervision services and, again, we have actually entered into a collaboration agreement that has been formalized among our respective ministries, including the Women’s Directorate, to address this very issue, among others.
Question re: Workers’ Compensation Act review
Mr. Cardiff: Three years after the Workers’ Compensation Act review began, we have seen absolutely no progress on phase 2 of the review — none, zero, nada, zilch. Nothing is happening, Mr. Speaker.
Workers and employers have been waiting patiently to see some action on this fundamental piece of legislation, which will lead to safer workplaces and better handling of injury claims, among other things.
Even despite assurances, when I asked the minister last spring to do this, the government hasn’t even bothered to update the Web site to tell people what the time frames for this review are. He hasn’t informed anybody about any changes in the time frames.
Will the minister pull out all the stops and do everything he can to resuscitate the Workers’ Compensation Act review? Time’s a’wastin’, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, let me share with the member opposite in this House many of the good initiatives underway in the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. The focus is on workplace safety, and the initiatives that are underway are many. Just look back a few years ago, when there was no need for any of these programs, given that the economy of the Yukon was in desperate condition. It was a U-Haul economy heading south. There weren’t that many people working; there was an exodus of people. Our party’s commitment to restoring investor confidence here in the Yukon, rebuilding the Yukon economy, has made it necessary to look at the Workers’ Compensation Act and parts of it. We also had to deal with the OH&S regulations. The ones that were implemented dealt with oil and gas, which were nonexistent, because this party — our party — has rebuilt the oil and gas industry here in the Yukon, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, that was a joke. The minister didn’t even answer the question about the Workers’ Compensation Act review. He went on about what the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board is actually doing about oil and gas. Well, the terms of reference and the timelines for the act review state that once the list of issues is finalized, no new issues can be added, and the deadline for identifying those issues was May 30, 2003. It’s right in the timelines. That’s 30 months ago, and nothing has happened since then. The list of issues has been compiled, but we haven’t seen any draft legislation, any recommendations, and many things have transpired in those 30 months, but nothing on the act review, Mr. Speaker.
How does the minister intend to address issues that have arisen over the last 30 months while the act review has been flatlined by this government?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Many, many things — positive initiatives — have taken place with respect to the act review. A facilitator was hired, and this individual has a long-standing knowledge in the field of workers’ compensation. The facilitator sat down with the three individuals who are charged with reviewing legislation, and that report is in a draft form, to the best of my knowledge at this point. It addresses all the issues that were brought forward. This is work underway, and we are going to do it, but we’re going to do it right.
Mr. Cardiff: Maybe the minister could make that draft available to the public so that they could comment on it. There are public meetings to be held. This process was supposed to be finished last December, according to the timelines on the government Web site. A great deal of time has passed amid high hopes on all sides of the House, but there are no recommendations. Could the minister make those available sometime? The way this government is treating this piece of legislation is shameful, because basically they are holding it up. If the minister can’t table the legislation or the recommendations, will he at least table the research paper that the Member for Southern Lakes used to get his master’s degree, so that Yukoners can have some inkling about what this Workers’ Compensation Act review process was supposed to be about?
Speaker: Order please. The implication is, from my listening to the member’s question, that there was a gain made by one member, and I believe that is out of order. I just ask the member not to go there. It seems to me rather unseemly to suggest that another member is benefiting outside of the Legislative Assembly. I’m sure the member agrees with me, and I’ll just ask him not to do it.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There is a lot of tremendously excellent work that has been undertaken by the review panel. That has been reviewed by a facilitator from British Columbia. It is my understanding that the review panel will be going back out to the stakeholders to address a number of the issues.
That said, Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation is extremely important. Our government has gone in and asked WCB to address the many issues. I’m sure you’ve noticed a profound change in the way WCB operates today versus under the previous administration. There is a profound change. There is a new president in place and she brings an amazing set of talents to the presidency.
So we are looking for very positive initiatives from Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. The exercise that the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board is engaged in is to provide compensation and assistance to rehabilitate those injured in the workforce. But of most importance is the prevention of accidents in the workplace. There is a tremendous degree of concentration and effort going into that initiative right away.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed. We will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No 16: Second Reading
Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 16, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that Bill No. 16, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services that Bill No. 16, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I am pleased to present the Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05, more commonly referred to as the Supplementary Estimates No. 3 for the 2004-05 fiscal year.
I will provide the Legislature with a few introductory remarks that explain the purpose of this appropriation. This appropriation act closes the last of the fiscal year-end and the expenditures are reflected in the 2004-05 public accounts, which I tabled earlier today in the Legislature.
The total value of the supplementary appropriation is $6.988 million. The increased expenditures and appropriation authority required is restricted to two departments.
Justice is seeking $104,000, which is a requirement to pay the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board for the mine safety program, covering funding program shortfalls for the years 2001-02 to 2004-05. There are a number of years that are being made up in this appropriation.
The larger amount of $6.884 million is contained in the Public Service Commission appropriation. This amount is required to cover a number of employee-related benefit expenditures, including retiree extended health benefits, recruitment, and outstanding employee superannuation buybacks. The minister responsible for the Public Service Commission will be able to provide you with further details once this department’s supplementary funding request is debated.
Even with these additional funding requests, the fiscal position of our government remains strong. As members of the Legislature will recall, the 2004-05 fiscal year was the first year that the government’s fiscal financial statements have been recorded on a full accrual accounting basis. This change in reporting fully adopts the generally accepted accounting principles, as well as the CICA public sector accounting guidelines.
As noted in these budget documents, as well as the public accounts, the surplus for the year was $5.2 million and the net financial resources of the government, as at March 31, 2005, are recorded at $48.2 million. The accumulated surplus of the Yukon government on a non-consolidated basis was just over $413 million.
I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and my colleagues, and I look forward to discussing this appropriation more fully in general debate.
Mr. Hardy: Well, on the surface, this is supposed to be a routine housekeeping bill. Historically, that is why the supplementaries have been brought in. The Fourth Appropriation Act, in this case 2004-05, would be to close out from the 2004-05 year. However, when we look at it closely, it reveals how this government is actually handling taxpayers’ money and managing the public’s business.
Though we’re closing it out, we can’t just let it go by, because it’s an indication of where we are today. It’s an indication of how the government got to the main budget in 2005-06 and also, of course, the supplementary budget we’ll be talking about in this sitting.
But what really jumps out, the bottom line in this case, is the $60 million in lapsed funding. In other words, the government got permission from this House last year to spend $60 million it didn’t need. Lapses are normal; we understand that they will happen. But lapses — money voted and not spent in the year it was voted — are normally in the range of $15 million to $20 million or so. There is always a margin in there, and that’s perfectly acceptable. But what isn’t acceptable from our perspective and from our experience is a $60-million lapse. That’s simply outrageous.
So we have to ask a very simple question, which I already asked last week: why didn’t this government spend the money it said it needed?
We can come up with some suggestions or ideas. It could be an accident. They totally misread the capacity of the departments, gave them tasks that were way beyond what they would be able to absorb in the course of the year. It could be an act of God, Mr. Speaker. In this case, it might be that. Or was it just plain bad planning? Of course that is a consideration as well.
Or was it a deliberate strategy by the Minister of Finance and his colleagues? If it was an accident or an act of God, I hope the Deputy Premier will explain in detail what actually happened and what steps are being taken to prevent such an accident in the future. That’s what we’re here for: to help this government plan a budget. We haven’t had much input to it — three years of trying to give some input to this government has fallen on deaf ears, but we will continue, because it is our responsibility to do that. If it was bad planning, I hope we will hear what steps have been taken to improve this government’s planning in the future.
We are also being asked to approve, of course, the supplementary budget for this year. How are we supposed to do that if we can’t get to the bottom of why there were $60 million in lapses last year, is a question that we’ve asked ourselves. We’ve talked about this.
Now, saying that, the last possibility is that this massive amount of underspending is part of a deliberate strategy, Mr. Speaker. We all know — everybody knows — that the federal Liberals love to announce things over and over and over again to get a public relations bounce. It has been talked about across this country and has been recognized everywhere. Just because the federal Liberals do that, there is no justification for the Yukon government to be doing the same thing, unless they are so enamoured with the federal Liberals and their method of telling the Canadian people how they spend their money, or not telling them how they spend their money until it is exposed — as, of course, the Gomery inquiry is doing — then I hope that is not going to be happening over here and there is going to have to be an inquiry with the government spending.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Mr. Cathers: I’d like to ask all members of this House to join me in welcoming to the gallery a former member, Mr. Doug Phillips — the former Member for Riverdale North.
Speaker: Before the leader of the official opposition starts again, I’d just like to give members something to consider when they stand up on a point of order. The leader of the official opposition was speaking in reply, and the Chair feels the point of order could have been better made after the leader of the official opposition was finished. Some consideration among members would be fine with me.
Mr. Hardy: I thank the Speaker for that. This habit of the Member for Lake Laberge of interrupting —
Speaker: Order. The Member for Lake Laberge is fully within his rights to stand up on a point of order. The Speaker’s intervention was purely as a courtesy. It was not the Speaker’s intention to add oil to the simmering fire here. I would just ask the leader of the official opposition to carry on with his reply please.
Mr. Hardy: As I was saying, Yukoners aren’t that fooled by that type of action. What we’re facing here today, once again, as I’ve said, is a massive lapse of funds that were promised to be spent, that were promised to be brought forward in projects identified for all people of the Yukon.
One of my colleagues earlier on talked about cuts in the delivery of sewage facilities that are so essential, especially when you think of the tragedies that have happened around Canada in regard to safe water and, of course, the issue right now on a reservation where they’re having to move people. It has been a long-standing issue in that community, and the federal Liberal government has not lived up to its responsibilities and is now having to react because they refused to do anything on their own initiative. It had to become a national disgrace for them to act, though they have had massive surpluses.
Now, there is not much difference in some cases in this. There are many issues that need to be addressed throughout the territory, and there have been many promises made — not just in this 2004-05, but also 2003-04 under this government. What is shocking, of course, is the amount of lapses. And it looks like there is a manipulation of figures here that needs to be examined.
Now, we have witnessed for years the federal government do what they call voodoo math. When they are estimating what kind of surpluses will be realized at the end of the fiscal year, they’re generally — I wouldn’t trust anybody that’s this far out on their figures — $8 billion or $9 billion out on their estimates, and they’ve done this time and time and time again. Finally, the opposition has managed to take them to task enough that they have promised to quit playing with figures in that manner. Lapses of this size suggest that there again is a problem with the math and a problem with the expectations or ability or the follow-through when you deliver a budget of that size and make the promises to the people, only to find a year later that you’re not fulfilling them. That is the question that we have to ask.
So there are a lot of services and a lot of projects out there that were promised, and they’re not happening. So our question, very simply, is: $60 million voted but not spent — why? It’s very simple: why are we facing that situation? What’s going on with the Yukon Party government’s math and how they work it out?
I’ve also talked about some of the words that were used by the Finance minister and the Premier when he first got elected. It’s even in the heading of his Budget Address, “controlling the trajectory of spending.” Everybody in the Yukon knows that the government wasn’t broke. The government hasn’t been broke in the Yukon; we know that. Yet, the indications of the Premier at that time were that the government could not continue with the type of spending that had been happening in the past. They had to stop it. They had to get it under control. To do that was like turning a supertanker around; it would take years to get spending under control.
Immediately after that, the Premier started a runaway spending spree that this territory has never seen. Most important, he refuses to be accountable for that kind of spending, and he refuses to be accountable for what he said then, to where we are today, with the largest massive increase in spending in three years that this territory has ever seen. It raises very, very serious questions about where we are going. Where are we going?
Would you, Mr. Speaker, turn over your finances to somebody who said to you, “You’re spending a lot of money, but it is not sustainable. Give your money to me. Give me what resources you have left, and I am going to spend even more. Then, in three years we will check in — you come back. Just give me your money.”?
This is what has happened here. The taxpayers have entrusted their future and their money in the hands of this Premier. He indicated that there was no way in the world you could keep spending that way. That’s what he told taxpayers. He also indicated a year ago that the spending he was conducting was not sustainable — one year ago.
I’ve been a businessman, Mr. Speaker. There is no way in the world that I could run a business while acting in that manner, spending in that manner, knowing full well that I was going to hit a wall while having no contingency plans and putting aside no money whatsoever.
But guess what? That’s what we’re being told, and we’re told to accept that. But we’re standing here today, saying it’s not acceptable. We’re relaying the messages we get from the public that the spending habits of this government are not acceptable. It’s not acceptable to tell the public you have to slow down your spending and then start to spend massively. It’s not acceptable to say the spending is not sustainable, it’s going to cause a problem, and then continue spending even more, bringing in bigger budgets. That’s not acceptable. And yet we’re expected to agree to this. We’re going to be debating more of that when the following supplementary comes forward.
But let’s take a look at the amount of spending. The Yukon’s budget has gone from $550 million in 2003, when the Yukon Party was elected, to $822 million in this fiscal year. They call themselves conservatives. There is no way in the world you can call yourself fiscally conservative if you go on a spending spree of that magnitude, knowing full well it’s not sustainable.
We have the Canada Winter Games, which has been identified as injecting a minimum of $70 million to $80 million into this economy over a period of about two and a half years. That’s one of the engines that’s driving the economy right now. I have heard a figure at the end of the day of almost $200 million being generated around the Canada Winter Games. Those are the figures that have been used in justifying having these kinds of games in the territory — massive amount of influx, a lot of money. Well, guess what? Looking down the road, looking at trajectories — a year and a half and it’s over. The Canada Winter Games are over. The buildings are built, the athletes have come, the performances have happened, and the money stops flowing. That amount of money stops flowing.
What kind of contingency is in place? Have I heard anything from that side of the House to tell us what they are going to do? What’s being put in place to continue the growth, to continue economic activity in areas that are going to feel the hit the most? Not a thing; absolutely nothing.
Just today, I have also heard just today the Deputy Premier say that the oil and gas industry is doing well because of them. That was a response to a question during Question Period, Mr. Speaker. Everybody in the territory knows that is nonsense. The oil and gas industry is doing all right — I wouldn’t call it “good”. I don’t see a lot of new wells being drilled. I do see some small exploration. I have heard of some pulling out of the territory in some areas; I have heard of long-term investments being stopped in some areas by some of the industry.
I haven’t necessarily heard it’s exploding and doing so well, not as well as it could possibly be doing. But what is the driving factor behind the little gains we are making in this area? What is the driving factor? It’s not the Deputy Premier sitting there. It’s not any one of those people sitting over there — not at all.
If we were on that side of the House and they were on this side, they would be saying the same thing as I am, because we all know what the truth of the matter is in this regard. It is the high prices; it is the demand. It’s called “supply and demand”. We are at a maximum capacity in many areas of supply. There’s a bigger demand. There are countries that are coming onstream and whose economies are far ahead of what North America — and South America, in many cases — is doing. They’re growing at a substantial rate; wealth is being generated in these countries and they have a greater demand for oil and gas resources, for the products that are produced from them and for the raw form.
That demand is there. There’s also the recognition that there’s only so much supply left in the areas that have been identified and they are able to access.
The oil and gas companies are starting to have to explore further. They have to take a look at areas that were not economically feasible just awhile ago. Now they start to look at regions that are very difficult to get to and have a lot higher cost. The supply is limited; there’s no question about that. That also raises a question about what this government would be doing around alternative fuel sources and alternative power sources, but that’s a debate we will be getting into. There’s not much at all that this government has brought forward in three years in that regard, and that’s a shame. We are missing an opportunity, and I think we have a timeline on this planet in which to start to address stuff like that.
That’s what’s driving it: supply and demand. Not the Deputy Premier standing up and saying that it is all because of him or all because of his colleagues. Yukon people won’t buy that; that’s stretching it. Now I do know that he can talk a good line but I think he’d have a hard time convincing the general public that the only reason the oil and gas industry is doing so great in Alberta is because of the government or that the only reason the oil and gas industry is doing the little that it is doing in the Yukon is because of this government. No. They didn’t bring the Oil and Gas Act in, by the way, just to remind people, and they haven’t really made much change to it. The Oil and Gas Act that the industry has to work with was put together by the NDP. It’s what the industry wanted, developed with the industry’s involvement as well as with other provinces, and they are quite happy with it. I haven’t seen much change in that regard.
Going back, there are a couple of areas I’ve already identified under the Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05. We look at operation and maintenance and the votes there. The sums not required are lapses for this appropriation. There is $21,239,000 in operation and maintenance, and of course there are some that jump out. My colleagues, of course, will be discussing that in the line-by-line debate.
There are some interesting numbers — Executive Council Office, $3,208,000. I look forward to an explanation of that amount and I’m sure I will get it. There is Health and Social Services, $4,412,000 — now, Mr. Speaker, I know of many organizations out there that are really, really hurt, and that deliver programs that are of a benefit to any government and that need funding. What we’re doing here is lapsing money. What happened?
We know this government really likes to use special warrants and has in the past. There are some areas there that possibly could have been looked at: Department of Highways and Public Works, $1 million; Yukon Housing Corporation lapsing $1.8 million.
We know there is a serious, serious problem around social housing and it’s not being addressed whatsoever by this government. As a matter of fact, they changed the rules to avoid delivering any type of social housing whatsoever. That is a serious question that the critic from Mount Lorne will be questioning. There are serious housing problems for seniors. This government has done absolutely nothing to address that. As a matter of fact, they changed the rules of an agreement with the federal government so that they didn’t have to do it. I was at the biannual AGM for the Council on Aging and I heard that from the seniors. They are not happy and they do not believe that housing is being delivered for them.
It was interesting, Mr. Speaker — a few times I’ve taken a drive up to see this showcase project that this government has entered into with a company from Utah — it’s called Falcon Ridge Development Corporation. There is a big sign there and I think when you drive down that hill there it says “What are we doing?” — something along those lines — on this big sign. It’s a very good question because when you drive by it and look at it, you think, what is it? What is actually happening there?
What’s shocking and distressing, of course, is to find out that government money, a substantial amount of government money, is going into something that is not addressing the needs that that program was originally designed for. There will be questions around that — no question about that and I’m sure the minister responsible will have very good answers. Those are questions that were asked at the annual general meeting of the Council on Aging. They’re extremely concerned about the lack of housing and about a broken promise in that regard — at least the way they view it.
There are other bigger lapses: Community Services, over $6 million. That is a massive lapse in Community Services. Economic Development — $3.217 million. I thought that this government was supposed to be driving the economy — or, pardon me, no. They weren’t driving the economy. If I remember the words of wisdom given when they first were elected, it was that the private sector would drive the economy, not the government. They were just there to kind of help them along. Well, three years later, we know what’s driving the economy in the territory, and it’s not the private sector, Mr. Speaker. So this government, I think, needs to eat a little bit of crow because the numbers are right there in front of us. They’re right there — the investments, the amount of money being spent in the Yukon, and the fact that the government has increased their spending, as I’ve said, from $550 million up to $822 million.
That’s not the private sector — just to remind some of the members opposite. I know there’s one member who has a frown on his face, like he can’t understand this, but that’s all right. The figures are there; he can open his budget book. What does that work out to? That’s something like a $280-million increase in spending over three years that we’ve already been told is not sustainable.
I really actually look forward to the next year’s budget to see how big that one is going to be and how the government is going to tell us it’s not sustainable either and, “We probably could bankrupt the territory as long as you keep voting for us, but, guess what, we love spending money.” That seems to be their answer for everything at the moment, though it’s contradictory to what they ran on.
Highways and Public Works — how much is being lapsed in Highways and Public Works? $13.248 million — what happened there? I know there’s lots of work that needs to be done out there. These were promises that were made in the main budget of 2004-05. What happened?
Are we going to reannounce those projects again and then reannounce them again and reannounce them again? Is that what’s going to happen? There are a lot of other examples. I know my colleagues will be talking about that as well.
Ultimately, Mr. Speaker, what it points to is, to a certain degree, unrealistic and incompetent budgeting because you cannot be lapsing $60 million, just a little under 10 percent of your budget, and say those are good accounting practices. You cannot be lapsing almost $60 million when you are telling the people, during the budget that was voted on and passed, that it’s realistic and that they should expect those projects to be delivered.
You can’t be doing that. No other government in the past, as far as I know, has lapsed as much.
I just asked my colleague beside me what the average in lapses was when she was the Premier. I do remember some of the averages when we were in government. Our accountability to the people was fairly accurate — nothing like this.
I know that the Deputy Premier, also the Acting Finance Minister, is eager to stand up and tell us exactly how they managed to lapse $60 million. There are other aspects of this that we are going to get into. I want to ensure that my colleagues have an opportunity. But I believe their actions have really let down the people of this territory and it doesn’t bode well for the future if this is the kind of budgeting they do.
Ms. Duncan: In responding to the remarks made by the Acting Minister of Finance and the leader of the official opposition, the Member for Whitehorse Centre, the leader of the NDP, I would just like to make a few comments with respect to the Supplementary Estimates No. 3.
First of all, Mr. Speaker, there was reference made by the Acting Minister of Finance to the public accounts. I draw your attention to that reference, Mr. Speaker, because as a member of the Legislature, I am having a bit of difficulty in terms of getting, relatively quickly, documents that are tabled. The public accounts were tabled today and we still don’t have them, yet there was reference made. We have been slow to receive documents and I would just draw that matter to your attention and ask that perhaps you could resolve that issue for us as members — just the speed with which we get these tabled documents. Particularly when a minister is going to make reference to it in his speech and there has been a media release issued by the government, surely we could have them as they’re being tabled.
A word about the math and about the comments that have been made about — they’ve been made in the past by the side opposite, about, “Well, when we got to government, the trajectory of spending…” and the leader of the official opposition has made comments about, “Well, when we were in government, the lapses weren’t quite as large,” — “we” being the NDP. I could stand and make comments as a former Minister of Finance about all of that. There were several comments that were less than flattering about some of the surpluses at the federal level and this — “playing with figures”, I think, was the phrase that was used. The fact is that there are a number of legislated — just a word about that. To the public, it just sounds like so much “he said-she said” and political rhetoric. The fact is, when you’re dealing with the territory’s or the country’s finances, there are legislated costs that are beyond anybody’s control and there’s nothing you can do about them. They may come in $10 million over, and there isn’t a finance minister in the country who hasn’t dealt with the Health minister walking in and saying, “Guess what, I’m $10 million or $15 million or $20 million or whatever over because of legislated drug costs or costs of hospital insurance or something else.” The fact is that that is part of Canada, it’s part of Canadian, provincial, territorial, federal finances. It’s the reality. It’s not any one government playing with the figures. It’s trying to manage the country’s money. That being said, this supplementary, in terms of managing the territory’s finances, is quite rightly housekeeping legislation. That being said, it does tell quite a story, and there are a number of very key questions that have to be asked and it’s our responsibility to ask them, which I certainly will do from this corner of the Legislature.
I also will advise the members opposite — it will come as no surprise — that it’s also part of my responsibility to oppose this supplementary, as I opposed the budget, and I will do so.
I will ask some key questions. In capital, I understand there are some key projects that did not proceed. A $13-million underexpenditure — clearly there are some key projects that didn’t go ahead, and the minister responsible will, I’m sure, have a logical, full and thorough explanation for us as to why that didn’t happen. For example, in the capital in Health and Social Services, I note that the Member for Klondike’s particular project didn’t proceed. While there may be a logical explanation as to why these projects didn’t proceed, there’s another key question as to why other people’s projects weren’t advanced.
I refer back to Question Period today, Mr. Speaker. It’s no surprise to anyone that there are students from a relatively new area, young children from a relatively newly developed area in Whitehorse, who can’t go to school in their neighbourhood. It’s not news, nor is it rocket science that there should be plans underway for a new school in that area. When you have $13 million and $4 million and many millions of dollars of capital projects that are not proceeding, why is the Yukon Party government not putting people ahead of their pet projects and responding to the needs of people in neighbourhoods in Whitehorse and moving these projects ahead?
There are also several capital recoveries. I note it’s particularly $3 million here, $3 million here and $3 million here. Community Services has $3 million, Highways and Public Works has $3 million, and Yukon Housing Corporation has $3 million. I suspect those are probably agreements that didn’t get fulfilled with the federal Liberal government, as people love to refer to it in this Legislature. I’d also like to offer a note of thanks for a good portion of the funds that are contained in the original budget and in this supplementary, funds that haven’t been spent for one reason or another. The work hasn’t been done.
In operation and maintenance, a key expenditure has been made, which is the $6.884 million in the Public Service Commission. I certainly look forward to asking some questions and receiving some detail about that. I would just perhaps advise the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission that my questions will be around why the patriation issue has been languishing for so long. I suspect that there are also actuarial pension evaluations that were the cause of this expenditure. So what is the current status of pensions with respect to the college, the hospital and these actuarial evaluations? When is the next one due, and how are we working with these Crown corporations or arm’s-length corporations and their pension issues? They are significant and, once again, they involve people, and that is the reason why we’re here — it’s on behalf of the people we represent, as you so eloquently remind us as we come to order every day.
The supplementary budget — I have outlined my questions and some of my concerns. Just to summarize, I will be voting against it. Part of our role is to question thoroughly. I do oppose the fact that the government has been unable to move forward on projects. It may be through no fault of their own that some of these have not proceeded, but in that case, why didn’t we put the Yukon people first and proceed on some of the other necessary projects that should be done?
I’m looking forward to hearing the explanations as to why these have not proceeded and a full and thorough explanation with regard to the additional funds required by the Public Service Commission.
Thank you very much for your time, Mr. Speaker, and the attention of my colleagues.
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, it’s my honour to address the Assembly today and to discuss the supplementary budget, Supplementary Estimates, No. 3. I’ll try to restrict my comments to the supplementary budget and not come into the next supplementary estimate, the amendments for 2005-06, which some of the members seem to really want to debate. There will be, I’m sure, due course to get into the debate and discuss surpluses and the net financial resources of the government and talk about that budget in due course. But today we’ll stick with the 2004-05 budget supplementary.
Mr. Speaker, this budget started with the Yukon Party’s platform priorities and beliefs. These were positively endorsed by the electorate. We put forward a vision and a plan, and we stated that vision and that plan countless times in this Assembly. The 2004-05 vision is an excellent, solid budget. It’s a budget that recognizes the government’s financial limitations and one that responds to the needs of the territory and invests in the long-term fabric of our community. We put forward a budget that builds a sustainable economy, improves the health of Yukon communities, and achieves a better quality of life for Yukoners. We’re doing what we have committed to do.
Now, Mr. Speaker, some of the early results are in. This is just going from the YTG monthly statistical review, which is available to all members and indeed all Yukoners. Mr. Speaker, the Yukon’s population as of June 2005 was 31,222 people. That’s an increase of 753 individuals, about 2.5 percent. The population of the Yukon is increasing again. More people have more faith in the territory, and they’re moving here — or they’re moving back.
One of the very positive indicators, Mr. Speaker, too, is that we don’t seem to be losing our young people as quickly as we were under past governments, when there was a mass exodus of the 20- to 35-year-olds.
Well, Mr. Speaker, the Member for Kluane reminds us that we’re all getting older by the minute, some faster than others. We have to remember that we have to keep our youth here. That was our future that was leaving, and now they’re finding reasons to stay here and to come back.
Also we see that employment is up. We now have about 15,400 Yukoners at work.
Another great indicator is that the average weekly wage for the Yukon increased by 6.1 percent. We know where that is: it’s in the pockets of Yukoners. They’re seeing their average weekly wages increase. We’re seeing inflation at around two percent but an increase in wages of six percent, which is a real increase of four percent, so Yukoners have more money in their pockets.
Another very positive indicator is that the average selling price for a single house in Whitehorse increased by 10.2 percent. That’s a great indicator of how well the economy is doing and about how people have faith in the territory and a desire to live here, grow here and work here, and a desire to raise a family here.
We’re bringing back the optimism. Prosperity is returning to the Yukon. Can the government take credit for all of it? Of course not, but what the government committed to do was to create a climate that investors would feel confidence in, where we could build an environment that would encourage private enterprise and business growth and development. That’s what’s happening.
Those are just some of the brief, real indicators of how well the economy is doing and how well the territory is doing.
A lot has happened since the original 2004-05 budget was tabled. It’s particularly satisfying to take a look at the budget, to look at the planning document and see where we said we were going and see where we are.
Mr. Speaker, our election platform stated that we were to utilize government budgets and policies to restore investor confidence and create a responsible, sustainable economy. The indicators demonstrate that we are going in that direction. We have reinvented the Department of Economic Development and that saw the creation of several different marketing funds — $1 million for the enterprise and trade fund, $1.5 million for the strategic industries fund, and $500,000 for regional economic development programs.
Yukoners are utilizing those programs, enhancing their ability to do business, and they are making the Yukon a better place to live and work in. This was the budget where we saw a reduction in the small business corporate tax rate, which reduced taxes from six percent to four percent — a great step in the right direction. This was the budget that saw the creation of a tourism cooperative marketing fund.
I know that the Department of Tourism and Culture has used that with their partners to enhance the ability of the private sector in the Yukon to do more business, to bring more people to the Yukon, to better market the Yukon, to reinvest in the Yukon — again, just to make the Yukon a better place to live and do business.
We saw this budget invest in the trolley car storage and the track extension down to the Chilkoot Centre. I know that many of us rode on the trolley this past summer and saw the fruits of this budget investment, which is moving visitors around our community, while indeed moving Yukoners and residents of Whitehorse around the community as well — another great piece of long-term infrastructure for the community.
When this budget was tabled, waterfront development in the City of Whitehorse and Carcross was just at the beginning of the planning initiative. We are well down the road of this. I am pleased to say that coming up in a couple of days, on November 3, there will be a meeting in Carcross to define and discuss some of the projects on the go-forward list for Carcross waterfront development. I know that the redevelopment at Carcross has been an issue that the residents there have been asking for, for 10, 20, 30 years. We have seen study after study about how to revitalize Carcross. This government is doing that.
We’ve accessed the funds; we’ve budgeted the fund, we’ve done extensive consultation with the community, and now we’re going forward and doing the work — a very exciting time, Mr. Speaker.
Also, Mr. Speaker, with Carcross, we saw the return of the train. This was a budget item from the previous budget. This past summer, we saw the train come back to Carcross and I, for one, am very happy to see the return of the White Pass train into the community. It’s going to be a great re-addition to the community.
Mr. Speaker, this budget had funds in it for the Old Crow Airport and the new terminal building there. I’m sure the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin will join me in saying that is a gorgeous building and a much-needed piece of infrastructure in the community, and it’s almost finished. If it hasn’t received substantial completion already, I think it’s due to receive that in the very near future. That was a budgetary commitment and one that’s being delivered on.
Mr. Speaker, in the 2004-05 budget there were funds to enshrine in legislation the Yukon Forum. Now, the Yukon Forum is a meeting place where elected leaders of the Yukon government and self-governing First Nations can discuss and determine common priorities for cooperation, collaboration and opportunities for common action. Mr. Speaker, we’re now seeing that legislation tabled in this Assembly in this session. Just a few short months ago, it was an item on the planning agenda, and now it’s coming to fruition.
In the 2004-05 budget, we saw planning money for community centres in Mayo and Marsh Lake, and I’m proud to say that construction is well underway in Marsh Lake for that much-needed piece of community infrastructure.
Just to correct things for the Member for Kluane, it is beside the lake, adjacent to the lake, with views of the lake, not in the lake. I should also add that in no part of the construction are there recycled tires. We haven’t used them for a foundation or anything.
This is going to be a gorgeous building, and it will fulfill a very significant need in the community.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Rouble: Sorry — the Member for Kluane is interested in what colour it’s going to be. I’m afraid I don’t have that level of detail with me right now. Perhaps he’d like to come out to one of the community dinners that are often held in the fire hall. It’s a situation where the fire trucks are parked out on the road so we can make room for the tables. I would warmly invite him to come out and have dinner with us, and we can take a look at the schematics and plans. If the colours haven’t all been picked, we’ll see what we can do about providing the member with an opportunity for some input.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Rouble: I won’t repeat the member’s last comment, Mr. Speaker.
This budget also saw the inclusion of funds for an alternative school in downtown Whitehorse, which started January 2005. The alternative school offers a flexible, supportive environment for school-aged youth, who dropped out of the regular education system, to work toward their diploma. The alternative school gives youth at risk another option for finishing high school, to help them develop their further education and career goals and ultimately to become successful in the workforce and in their community.
I don’t have the exact enrolment numbers for that, but I do know it has been very successful in attracting youth who otherwise probably wouldn’t be in school at all, and it has been really successful in bringing youth back to the education system. We all know that, if that’s not the most important priority, it’s one of the most important priorities for our youth, and I’m proud to say this new alternative school is satisfying that very significant need and is doing the job.
I’ve also talked about how the 2004-05 budget had the investment in Carcross, and we’ve seen the return of the train. One of the other important initiatives was completion of the highway construction on the Tagish Road. I’m really pleased to say that, with the assistance of the Minister of Highways and Public Works and his department, we were able to get the work on the road and the BST completed in time for Ride Yukon.
For those who aren’t aware, Ride Yukon was a significant event that happened this past summer, which involved a couple hundred motorcycle enthusiasts from across North America who came to ride around our highways and enjoy our Yukon hospitality. It was a great event with a couple of different functions out in the beautiful Southern Lakes, including a ride on the train and a poker run. It was a great opportunity to get out on the Tagish Road, which is in great driving condition now. If members haven’t had the opportunity for a Sunday drive to do the loop, I would encourage them to get out and see the beauty that people in Whitehorse have in their own backyard out in the beautiful Southern Lakes.
The 2004-05 budget was a grassroots budget. It was developed with very strong and thorough consultation. There were community tours throughout the territory. The Premier and Cabinet have continued to do that and recently completed a tour that visited every Yukon community. The 2004-05 budget is helping to determine the future economic course of the territory. It’s a can-do budget for a can-do territory, and we are seeing a lot of things already that have gone from the planning and implementation stage to the “done” category.
Mr. Speaker, this supplementary budget responds to some very important needs and helps to close off the fiscal year. It does some very important things for the Department of Justice and has some exciting initiatives for the Public Service Commission. The two ministers responsible, I’m sure, can discuss in much greater detail how these appropriations are going to be put forward, but I would commend this budget to the Assembly and encourage all members to be supportive of it.
I’d like to thank you for your attention today. That will conclude my remarks.
Mr. McRobb: I’m glad for this opportunity to speak to the supplementary budget before us because it provides an opportunity to reflect back on how this government has spent the money — or misspent the money, as the case may be — over the course of the past seven months.
First of all, the title of this bill is the Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05. Now, I think there is something to be said about the title of the bill itself. First of all, it shows the government can’t get it right the first time, nor can it get it right the second time or even the third time, for that matter. So, that is why we are dealing with a fourth appropriation act, because it is trying to get it right now on this fourth opportunity.
Well, I’ve never seen so many supplementary budgets in one year, Mr. Speaker, and there are still several months left. I would imagine we will be dealing with another one if there is a spring sitting of this Legislature in the new year.
So, obviously it doesn’t speak very well about the ability of the Yukon Party government to fiscally manage the finances of the territory in a realistic way.
That’s my first concern.
Now, I also want to comment on how this government tries to take credit for the economic rejuvenation that is currently being experienced in some parts of the territory. At almost every opportunity, Mr. Speaker, we hear ministers trying to glom on to statistics that show the economy is better now than before.
That’s what political insiders refer to as “spin language”, Mr. Speaker, because the reality is there are some fundamental reasons that underlie the political messages. One of them is the rebound in world metal prices. Well, it doesn’t matter who the government is. If there is a rebound in world metal prices, the economy will benefit because we largely still have a mining-based economy that has been at a level that is less than its potential for the past several years. Now that metal prices have rebounded and, largely driven by the emergence of new economies such as the one in China — obviously, given the Yukon’s proximity to those markets and the abundance in untapped and known resources yet to be developed, we are in an advantageous position. So what’s the big secret?
There are other factors, such as what isn’t happening. I think back to 1998-99, when the Bre-X scandal basically dried up all the resource capital that junior mining companies wanted to borrow in order to continue exploration and development.
Simply put, there was no money to be had. That had a serious impact, not only on Yukon mining companies but on mining companies all over Canada and even all over the world. The emergence of China and other Pacific Rim economies, along with some reforms that have been introduced in the stock market and so on in the country, has made financial lenders forget about Bre-X. Bre-X is behind us now.
There are some other disasters that happened that were also completely out of Yukon control and have been forgotten.
So those are the real reasons that I and many Yukoners see for the economic rebound in the resource sector. Look at what’s happening to oil and gas prices. Those high prices are being driven by natural disasters in the world, as well as armed conflict in oil-strategic locations throughout the world. The price of oil is helping to drive exploration and drilling in the Yukon today.
What does that have to do with the Yukon Party? The answer is, very little. As a matter of fact, I could go on about how this government isn’t properly managing some of its responsibilities, and I did that today in Question Period.
We also have to acknowledge the fact that Whitehorse is becoming an attractive place to live for people outside the territory, and they’ve taken notice. The city has reached a critical mass of population and services that provide the basic level of conveniences that people in most Outside cities enjoy.
In some respects, it has become a big-box haven up here. In the last few years, we have seen several big box stores, and we hear about more on the way. To back that up, just this summer the federal government ended the northern living allowance for its employees. The reason I recall being cited was that shopping in Whitehorse is comparable to large cities Outside, so there must be some justification to that. I think the level of competitiveness in the retail trade in Whitehorse is being noticed by many Yukoners. That has nothing to do with the Yukon Party. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I recall the Yukon Party opposing the Argus Properties development back in 1999 — about that time — when Wal-Mart was talking about coming to town. It was opposing that development. If you are uncertain, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that you look back in Hansard. It’s all there. There were questions to the former Minister of Economic Development about the Argus Properties, and so on. Yet, now, the Yukon Party is trying to take credit for the retail industry in Whitehorse and the competitive nature of it. Well, there is a word for that, Mr. Speaker, but it is unparliamentary and I won’t say it.
Now, on a similar matter, this government is having the Liberals’ former one-stop shop across from Wal-Mart on Quartz Road expanded for additional government office space. We know what the Deputy Premier said about that when he was in opposition; he opposed it. He said it would create a big black hole that would be disastrous to downtown business. There were other comments made too.
But, Mr. Speaker, what did this government do? It secretly added on to the building, hoping the opposition parties wouldn’t find out before the end of the spring sitting — but there must be a God, because that wish did not come true. We did find out, and we were able to question the government, which was caught flatfooted in its excuses to justify enlarging the very building it attacked the previous government for. Well, there’s that same word again that I can’t use in here.
So those are my comments on the general issues out there about where the government stands. There are lots more, but I do have a limited opportunity and I want to talk about something else because, back on May 25, there was a very interesting development in the Kluane seniors facility issue. On that day — it was a Wednesday, I recall — the Health and Social Services minister visited Haines Junction at the request of the seniors to hold a public meeting to explain what the government was doing with respect to the study it commissioned in the Kluane region and the government promises it made at prior public meetings.
Now, I attended both of those meetings. The Health and Social Services minister held one in the afternoon and another one in the evening of that day. It’s fair to say he was blasted by the seniors and others who attended those meetings. At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, I think it’s fair to say he had a full serving of crow feather pie, because there was not much he could say in response to a lot of the angry comments directed his way.
Now, why were the people so angry? Let me explain. This government has heard about the need for a regional seniors facility for at least three years now, but it ignored it. It chose instead to announce early two similar facilities — one in Watson Lake, one in Dawson City. Those communities are the homes of the Premier and the Deputy Premier. Was that fair? Well, no, it wasn’t.
The reason is there are three regions in the territory that have numbers of seniors distinctly above the other regions. The Kluane region is one of them. So the government should have announced three seniors care facilities at that opportunity. Instead it only announced two.
The number of seniors in the Kluane region is greater than the number in Watson Lake or Dawson City. I tabled information from the Yukon government’s own statistics to back that up. But that didn’t make any difference. They still ignored the needs of the region.
So what was going on? Well, the government did commission a study into the situation in the Kluane region, as previous governments have commissioned similar studies in Watson Lake and Dawson City, which they relied on for their decisions to fund the construction of those two facilities. But the terms of reference for the Kluane study were considerably different from the other two.
The other two had terms of reference that guided the study and the focus of the study to determine how best to build a facility to serve the needs of seniors in those two communities.
Quite differently, the study in the Kluane region asked whether the Haines Junction area could justify a level 1 and 2 seniors care facility. Now, that language is quite noticeably more restrictive, Mr. Speaker, and sets the study down a path directed by the Health minister, not by the people in the region.
So the study came back, and it determined that a level 1 and 2 care facility was not justified and, in fact, there were no people able or willing to move into a facility in the near future. Well, that raised the ire of many people at those meetings — many people. Midway through the first meeting, the group discussion came down to this point, and at that opportunity I asked the First Nation leaders and representatives and the seniors if indeed they had people willing and ready to move in now, and the answer from each of them was affirmative. So not only was the scope of the study reduced — obviously for political reasons, but the findings were proven faulty.
So what did the Health minister do next? Well, he defended the study as best as he could. The study, by the way, recommended revisiting the numbers after a five-year time period had elapsed. Well, the minister bowed to public pressure, at least a little bit, and shortened that period to three years. Well, a lot of good that does for seniors who are on in their years, Mr. Speaker, where every year counts, and in cases where they don’t know if it’s their last year or not.
Besides, people knew. Last spring the mandate of this government was due to expire within a year and a half, maximum. So what is the Health minister doing making promises a year and a half beyond his mandate? Well, that point wasn’t lost on people.
People took the government’s response as somewhat disingenuous and were resigned to just taking whatever they could get from this government and wishing on the next election and a change in government. I could go to where we are today, Mr. Speaker, and I will in a minute, but I want to redress a couple other items that were happening concurrently to this. The senior study in the Kluane region was supposed to be available last December or January, yet it was only provided to this House on the last day of the spring sitting, which I believe was May 17. It was provided only after Question Period was over, so the Health minister knew that he would avoid questions on that study if he took such a course of action.
Well, that’s rather despicable, because where is the accountability? Where is the openness? To actually hide from accountability through secrecy is very contrary to much of the language that we hear from the government. So the study was hidden. It came out of the closet only at the public meetings where the seniors and others blasted the Health minister. He left town with his tail between his legs, and people weren’t impressed.
I’ve only got a minute left, so I will just update people where it’s at. At the Premier’s Cabinet tour meeting which occurred last Monday night on very short notice to some people and no notice to most people — the Premier was obviously briefed on his drive to Haines Junction and was prepared for some concessions.
One concession he made was that the government would work with seniors toward the goal of the facility. But he made no commitment for funding. There’s only one more chance this government’s got and that’s the spring budget. So we will be watching for that to happen but it’s very doubtful it will, because this government is acting too late. It had the opportunity in the previous three years to take the right approach, and right now the approach it’s taking can be called desperate because it is doing it purely for political reasons, not for reasons of justified numbers for the region or for what the senior people and others have requested from this government. The reason I take this project so seriously is because it was a campaign commitment from candidates of all parties to place this as number one on the priority list for the region. I knew that and I communicated that to the Premier two days after the last election. We are only getting movement now with less than a year left and without any firm budget promises. Well, people will know in due course, and people are sceptical now. They are waiting for that next election.
Hon. Mr. Lang: I find it interesting listening to the members opposite debate finance, but let’s move forward. Our job here as government is to manage the finances of the territory. It’s very important that we do it in a very constructive way.
I’d like to remind the members opposite and the whole House and all Yukoners that the figures we talk about are put together by the Auditor General of Canada. They have an overview and do the accounting for us. I’m very, very happy to be in a government that is only second to Alberta in the Dominion of Canada with our books in the shape they are in. We certainly are showing a very solid set of books and are also moving forward with managing a balanced economy in the Yukon.
That balanced economy means that we have to have economic development in line with and in balance with our social agenda and also the well-being of our communities — understanding the member opposite was talking about the government in power having nothing to do with the economic success of the Yukon, and I find that a little out of line, Mr. Speaker. When you think three years ago, when we accepted responsibility of the Government of Yukon, the exploration in the Yukon was less than $7 million. If you want to put that into a comparison, Northwest Territories had $75 million to $100 million worth of exploration dollars being spent; the Province of British Columbia — very positive — I think close to $100 million; and of course Alaska was $100 million.
So I remind the members opposite that government does have something to do with invested dollars — invested dollars coming from individuals and from corporations that feel comfortable with the government of the day, so they invest their money in our jurisdiction. And of course, that is going forward today.
Today we’re looking at a $43 million to $50 million investment of exploration dollars spent in Yukon. Is that enough? It’s certainly not enough. We’re looking forward to the future. We’re looking forward to where we’ll have mines back in production and Yukoners back to work. Some of the statistics are quite interesting, Mr. Speaker.
Since 2002, there are 2,500 more Yukoners employed — 2,500 more workers today than there were in 2002. Also, Mr. Deputy Speaker, at the end of the day, our unemployment is the lowest it has ever been since they have been taking statistics. So, in other words, more Yukoners are working and there is a higher population. If you were to ask somebody in the Whitehorse area if there is a market for homes — Have houses in the last three years grown in value? Is there optimism out there? — I think you would have to say in a positive way that the houses are worth more today in the Whitehorse area. I’m not saying in all of the Yukon — we have work to be done in the outlying, smaller communities. We’re working on that, Mr. Chair.
We will continue to work on that to make sure that all Yukoners will benefit from this economic upsurge. That’s our job as government. We are the public government and we represent all of Yukon and we work diligently to balance our invested dollars.
If you look at Yukon today — if you look at the most northern riding in Old Crow, the money that the Yukon government has put in place there to make sure that that community can be successful and can realize some of its economic vision — we are working with that. I’d like to report today that the new terminal opened in the last couple of days. It’s a beautiful infrastructure for the Old Crow community, and a real plus for all Yukon — rip-rap being done in the Old Crow area.
If you look down in the Mayo area, in the mining community we are looking at taking United Keno Hill out of receivership and putting it in the hands of a corporation and expanding the potential there. We are doing that as a government. We have been very aggressive on that.
We have also looked at the community of Mayo and did an overview and asked what the community of Mayo needs. I think that probably we are on the right track, Mr. Speaker. We are looking at a new community hall complex to complement the town of Mayo, and we are starting on that this fall and will hopefully have it done by next fall. That is another riding that is not on this side of the House but we are very positive that that community needed that kind of infrastructure and we are doing it.
If you go down to Pelly — again, we can bring up the potable water issue. Pelly has issues with potable water. We are working very positively with Pelly to make sure they can realize that the management of that very important commodity will be done in a very, very businesslike way. Hopefully we will have something to report to this House by next spring on how that will be addressed. So we are certainly looking at that.
Of course, the Department of Education is looking at Carmacks and building the new school. That is going ahead.
So when we look at all these ridings and all this Yukon infrastructure, we try to balance all of Yukon so we can all benefit from the benefits of the management of the resources.
The final tally on how this thing will unfold — certainly, the leader of the official opposition was questioning lapses in the budget. He said it was mismanagement; it was all sorts of bad things. Previous governments didn’t have the resources to put those projects forward, but we are working with Yukoners to put Yukoners to work, and some of these jobs can’t be realized, because we’re running out of Yukoners to put to work.
During my trip to Ross River, I was very, very pleased to see the opening of the new complex there: a daycare, a community complex, a centre of the community — a fabulous, fabulous piece of infrastructure for that community. And then when we talk to the community, we find that that community is going to work. It’s going to work in the Macmillan Pass, Howard’s Pass and the emerald mine. Thirty-four employees from Ross River worked at the emerald mine last year, and it was mostly women working on the sorting process. Yukon Zinc, Ketza — all those projects are drawing from the Ross River area and putting Yukoners in Ross River to work. That is what this government has set up to do, and that is what this government has done.
We understand the Member for Kluane questioning extended care facilities. There are issues throughout the Yukon regarding extended care units. Our government wants to and will maximize the time that our seniors can spend in the community. The best place for a senior is in the community they lived their life in. We are very conscious of that. We are proceeding with the extended care in Watson Lake, which has been needed for many, many, many years. We are also looking toward the same kind of complex in Dawson City. Again, as we work with the Kluane riding, we will address those issues on how we will maintain seniors and elders in their own community. The best place for elders and seniors is to extend their life in their community. We on this side are very conscious of it, and we are the government that started the thing in the outlying area with these extended care units, and we’re going to proceed.
As the budget moves forward, Mr. Speaker, we only have to address through health care the resources that have been put forward in health care. The members opposite voted against those moves. But again, I guess, as the member for the third party said, it’s their job to vote against it. I guess it is but, in the long run, I think we in this House should all realize that we should really take into consideration what we’re voting for and what we’re voting against because, at the end of the day, we are here to represent all Yukoners and we want to maximize the benefits to the Yukon.
So, in our social thing we put through our Premier — and, again, our partnership with north of 60 — they were successful in going to Ottawa and addressing the per capita system that was in place and that previous governments lived under, where we shared in the resources from Ottawa on health care on a per capita basis. It doesn’t work north of 60 because we haven’t got the population, but does it mean that we should have any less service?
I think our Premier, in conjunction and in partnership with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, was very, very successful in going to Ottawa and putting our argument forward that per capita did not work north of 60 because of the size of north of 60, which is geographically two-thirds the size of Canada, but we don’t have the population. We have many, many other issues.
In Nunavut, 90 percent of their health care dollars involve an airplane, whether it’s flying into the main hospital in Iqaluit or extending that and taking the patient out. A lot of the Northwest Territories — in other words, their transportation grid, their transportation system — does not have the flexibility we do. We have, as far as a northern territory is concerned, a pretty extensive transportation grid, and that again complements our health care because we can utilize that transportation grid to move patients around and get them into Whitehorse. Of course, from Whitehorse, there is air service to what is needed in southern Canada.
With that, and with partnerships with British Columbia, I think we should be proud of what we have done to date as far as our health dollar expenditures have been because, at the end of the day, it benefits all Yukoners. Health is very, very important to all Canadians. As you can see when you read newspapers from southern Canada, one of the issues that Canadians talk about extensively is our health, our health care and our health care dollars, how those dollars are spent and where those dollars come from.
So, we have an arrangement with British Columbia and Alberta on how they accept our clients or patients and prioritize us over their own constituency. I think our government has done a commendable job to raise those dollar values out there so we can do things like our extended care unit.
We can do the things we need in our health care unit to address how we can maintain our doctor ratio, how we can work with health care facilitators in the other communities in Yukon and make sure we maximize the expenditure of those dollars to the betterment of the health of our community. Again, health and social issues have been addressed through a partnership. A lot of the resources came because of the hard work of our Premier and, of course, our partnership with north of 60, which has benefited us many ways.
Energy, Mines and Resources — when we took office in 2002, the politics and sense of the Mackenzie Valley pipeline and the Alaska Highway pipeline, and the animosity between the two jurisdictions about who was going to go first and who was the pet of the month — that doesn’t exist any more. We work positively with each other to make sure that we will benefit. Again, our Premier went to the Northwest Territories and brought up the fact that we want to benefit from the Mackenzie Valley pipeline. How do we do that? We have access to work on the Mackenzie Valley pipeline, if it goes forward, and our contractors can bid. This is all part and parcel of the partnership that has grown between our two jurisdictions.
As far as the Alaska Highway pipeline is concerned, we’ve grown in partnership with Alaska and the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta. At this moment, the Premier is chairing a meeting in Vancouver on exactly this issue, and I hope he comes back with positive information on the future or on some of the challenges we’re going to meet with the Alaska Highway pipeline.
Of course, the Mackenzie Valley pipeline is a factor in our resources because our northern Yukon resources are stranded without a pipeline, and the most natural or economic way to bring those to market is through the Mackenzie Valley pipeline.
We are interceding, of course, with the NEB to make sure that our voice is heard and that our products aren’t stranded and that, at the end of the day, we are another Canadian jurisdiction — I know the federal government is always talking about stranded Canadian gas, and of course Yukon gas or Yukon resources shouldn’t be any more stranded than Northwest Territories’. So we’re keeping the federal government on notice that we are not going to tolerate any less treatment on our side of the border than they’re giving the Northwest Territories.
Of course, the members opposite in their debate about the economics of the Yukon and how we are on a spending spree or whatever they like to put it under — all we’re doing is managing the money that we have managed, to certainly increase our economic foundation and we like to see the mining community coming back. The member opposite has mentioned oil and gas and how it was just a small part, or just an act of — just came out of the air, the resources. I would like to remind the member opposite that we worked very, very hard as a government to make sure that Devon in southeast Yukon expanded on that gas resource, and that gas resource was at the point of non-existence before that $30 million was spent there.
I would like to remind all Yukoners and the House that all governments in the Yukon benefit from the resources in southeast Yukon: all First Nation governments that have been signed and of course we as a territorial government and, in turn, the federal government. So we all as a community benefit from the wealth of southeast Yukon. I would like to remind the people opposite that, in fact, the only group that doesn’t benefit at this time is, of course, the Kaska, whose traditional territory this wealth is and, of course, White River, the two First Nations that haven’t signed.
And of course I welcome the Kwanlin Dun now and the Tagish-Carcross group on because they will get their fair share of that resource. They will, I think, benefit from the resource since 1993, so they will be getting a lump payment. So as far as who shares in the wealth, we certainly have enhanced the gas production in southeast Yukon. Devon invested the money and we certainly look forward to those wells being a part of our economic engine. Certainly we are pleased to see that the First Nations have, of course, their share of it raised so that at the end of the day we all benefit from those resources.
As far as the mining portfolio is concerned, mining has done very, very well over the last three years. I guess what we have to do is remember that we’ve only had that responsibility of the management of the mining for the last two years, so to argue the point about the past and the present — I think we are very positive, we are on a go-forward thing, we certainly are looking forward to getting that Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act out the front door. I am optimistic that we will be able to do that and, as the federal government said, that will be done this fall. I don’t know what they mean by “fall”, but at the end of the day we are looking at — hopefully before the new year that yes, it will be in place. We in the Quartz Mining Act end are working with YESAA to implement so that YESAA and the Placer Mining Act can mesh together and move forward and so we will be in the new world of how YESAA will work and we’re looking very, very positively at working with YESAA and the made-in-Yukon environmental overview. I think it’s going to be very positive and I look forward to the new year, as long as we can get it up and running before the new year, so that we look at how the mining community and how these extraction industries can work together and work with YESAA and get on with managing that aspect of the Yukon’s economy.
In closing, Mr. Speaker, I stand here amazed at some of the comments from the members opposite. I think we have to take another look at the things we’ve done over the last three years. I take my hat off to all the ministers who have worked very hard — the department of Education, Economic Development, and Tourism. All those departments have expanded and spent money. There’s Health and Social Services, of course, and Environment — the parks that we’ve created in the last three years. All of those are part of the challenges this government has met. We’ve gone through devolution and have moved forward.
Again, Mr. Speaker —
Deputy Speaker: The minister’s time has expired.
Mr. Cardiff: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for the relief from that.
I would like to speak to Bill No. 16, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05. I recognize the need to bring the finances of that fiscal year-end to completion and recognize that the monies we would be voting for are needed. I recognize the fact that those monies have already been spent.
As the leader of the official opposition pointed out earlier, I think the more notable thing in this bill is the amount of money that has been lapsed — the amount of money that hasn’t been spent. I’m going to try to point out some of the inconsistencies of this government’s budget planning process.
When we first came into this Legislature the very first budget speech was all about the terrible situation the finances of the territory were in, and that was what members on that side of the House talked about.
They talked about the big bad trajectory of spending that couldn’t be sustained. Yet, what have we seen? We’ve seen the trajectory do nothing but pretty much go straight up. It has increased. Undoubtedly, some of that may be due to initiatives of the government. I would argue that a lot of it has been due to the flow of monies from Ottawa for various projects. We will talk about some of those projects a little later. I will bring some of those projects up a little later.
So, the big bad trajectory — it’s has done nothing but go straight up. The previous speaker talked about having a solid set of books. Because the public accounts were just tabled today, and I only just received them, I haven’t had a chance to look through them in their entirety. But what I see in the public accounts are the promises that this government made to various communities that they didn’t follow through on. If you look at expenditures in the Department of Community Services, in this bill, the government is saying that they promised communities $6-million worth of projects in the capital budget. What were those projects? What were some of the things from that budget — the 2004-05 main estimates? I would encourage some of the members on the other side of the House to go back up to their offices and get this document and look at some of the things. There were huge increases in spending — things like office equipment and furniture went up by almost 100 percent. Is that part of the $6 million they didn’t spend? I don’t know.
We’d like an explanation for some of that. Undoubtedly there were needs for increases in the fire marshal’s office and fire protection and fire management. That’s for certain. What were some of the other promises that were made in that budget speech almost two years ago — 18 months ago? What were some of the projects that communities were promised?
The Member for Porter Creek Centre, the previous speaker, talked about the community hall in Ross River. In that budget, there was $1.3 million. How much of that $1.3 million was actually spent during that fiscal year? Was that project actually delivered? We know that it’s complete now, but how many times can a government announce a project and say that there’s this much money attached to it? How many times do they re-announce that project?
We know that the federal government does it on a fairly regular basis. We saw things like the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund and the municipal rural infrastructure fund monies announced over and over and over again. This government bought into that, announcing the money over and over and over again, and it’s evident from these budgets.
In that budget year, there was $7 million announced in those two funds. Were all of those funds spent? We know they weren’t. And I don’t call that keeping a solid set of books.
It’s the same with the affordable housing money. The affordable housing money was announced by the federal government prior to the members opposite even taking office, yet how many affordable housing announcements have we seen from the federal government or from this government? How many of those projects have been delivered? Do they meet the test of the agreement?
We look here and there’s $4 million not spent by the Yukon Housing Corporation in capital. How much of that money was affordable housing? How much of that could have gone toward putting people who are really in need into a better living situation where they could raise their families and provide for them?
Some of the other projects where there were huge increases in that budget in Community Services were for things like water supply, treatment and storage, and water and sewer mains. There was $370,000 of new money there. There was also new money for sewage treatment and disposal — a 30-percent increase. There was $3.1 million for sewage treatment and disposal in Community Services, yet what we’re seeing is a $6.1-million lapse.
You can’t go around — I honestly don’t believe that you can go around, promising communities that you’re going to do something to make their lives better, to improve the sewage treatment facilities in their communities, to improve the delivery of water in their communities, to ensure that it’s safe so people can be assured the water supply is safe and their health is going to be safe and they won’t be at risk. We’ve seen that in some communities across Canada, but we’ve also had boil-water advisories here in the Yukon this summer in a few communities.
This isn’t something that is new, but how much of this $6 million that is being lapsed was for sewage treatment and disposal or for water supply treatment and storage? We don’t know that. I don’t call that sound fiscal management. It’s about making promises that you don’t have any intention of keeping.
I talked a little bit about federal infrastructure projects and the dollars that flow to the Yukon. In that budget — the budget that this supplementary addresses — there was $7 million. There was $2 million for the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund projects, and $5 million for municipal rural infrastructure projects. How many of those projects actually came to fruition?
I brought this up in one of the questions I asked today with regard to the municipal rural infrastructure fund. This is something that may pertain to a different budget, but it is an example of what is going on here. It’s an example of saying that you are going to do something, that there is going to be this list of projects that was announced last May 19, and yet, in the current budget, there is $1.5 million that is not being spent. You are admitting that in the supplementary for this year. To me, that is a travesty. The projects that were listed, which were attached to this municipal rural infrastructure funding, were things like the Canada Games facility, the Village of Mayo community centre. The Village of Mayo community centre, which is a project worth $6 million — admittedly, that money is in another budget — is that project going to start this fall?
I doubt it. It’s getting pretty late to start digging the ground up and pouring footings. We’ve already seen what happens when you start buildings too late in the season. We saw that problem with the Mayo school, and yet this government — it’s another beef, I suppose, I have with the government, coming from a construction background: the late start on projects.
What does that cost the taxpayers of the Yukon? What does starting to build capital works in October — what benefit is there to the taxpayers of the Yukon when that happens? Maybe that’s why some of this money has to lapse: because of the poor planning on the part of this government. We have all this money lapsing and a lot of it is in capital. We will get to the Department of Highways and Public Works lapses, which are over twice what is being lapsed in the Department of Community Services — $60 million total in lapses from a $700 million budget. It has to be nine percent wrong — nine percent of the money that this government promised to spend, said they were going to spend, they didn’t spend. They didn’t come through on their promises.
Another thing the Member for Porter Creek Centre pointed out was that we voted against this budget. We don’t vote against the budget. Undoubtedly there are things in any budget that we can support, but there are certain actions that the government takes — certain projects, certain priorities — that we just can’t support.
Obviously this government doesn’t know what fiscal responsibility is, when they make promises they don’t deliver on. There are $60-million worth of promises they haven’t delivered on. In Health and Social Services, in operation and maintenance, they didn’t deliver on $4.4 million. They said they were going to spend the money, that they needed the money, but they didn’t spend it.
That’s why we don’t vote for the budget: it’s because the government says it’s going to do something and then doesn’t do it. I know my time is limited, but I’d like to also touch on one other thing with regard to the spending priorities of this government and the way they manage money, and that’s special warrants. That is a page I found in the public accounts.
When you look at the use of special warrants by this government, they’ve taken this to an all-time high. No other government that I can recollect — and I’ve lived here for almost 30 years — has ever used special warrants to the degree that this government has. The first special warrant — special warrant number one — was for $223 million. Why did they need a special warrant? You know why they needed a special warrant, Mr. Speaker? Because they didn’t do the work in time, and they didn’t call the Legislature back in so we could actually debate the budget in time.
They waited until the very last possible moment to call the Legislature back and present the budget, and that’s why they needed a $223-million special warrant: to start the year off.
Then they used special warrants three more times during that fiscal year. Almost for certain I can understand the need for one of them. The reason why they use special warrants is because they haven’t planned. There was a warrant in Environment and Justice for another $2.3 million. Why couldn’t that have been included in the budget? We all know that the year 2004-05 was an extraordinary year for forest fires. There is a warrant in there for $15 million that reflects that. But there are more warrants. There is another $3.8 million in special warrants. To me, that’s not good fiscal management. You should be able to plan your expenditures. You should be able to have a vision of where you’re going with a budget and what your priorities are.
What are the priorities for each individual community? What are the priorities for the territory as a whole? There should be some sort of a plan as to — you’ve got limited resources, the trajectory is out of control, you need to get it under control, you’ve got new monies in from Ottawa, and there should be priorities attached to that, but that’s not what we see from this government. With this government, the spending was all over the map. They were spending here, they were spending there, and at the end of the day they promised $60 million in expenditures that they never delivered on.
There was $38 million in capital for projects around the territory that never got spent. Not all of these, I suppose, would have been projects in communities, but a good portion of them — $13 million in Highways and Public Works and $6 million in Community Services would have been projects. I regret to say — I know that the members opposite were really looking forward to me highlighting all the money that they didn’t spend in Highways and Public Works in that budget, but they’ll have to wait for another time, I guess, when I have more time to talk about that.
So thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to hearing comments from the other members opposite on this.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Mr. Speaker, three words, three little words that I think sum up the whole debate: accounting, accountability and spin. So let’s take a look at some of those words and how some of these things interact.
I don’t have an accounting background. I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years, but what accounting knowledge I have and what I’m told by everyone knowledgeable in the field is that accounting is perhaps complex on one side but it is certainly somewhat more specific and more direct on the other.
Within the accounting, you can set a budget for a certain number of things, but you don’t spend everything on the first day. That never happens — at least it usually doesn’t happen. You go through the various projects, and there are a number of projects in a very busy business — and government is business. It’s the business of providing employment, of a social safety net, and of all the rest of the things that government does, but it’s still a business. At the end of the day and at the end of the term, there are a number of projects that are instituted and will come about into the next fiscal year: the money simply isn’t used.
I’ll give some examples. The community development fund is something that our government brought back. Projects are accepted and started, but often the money isn’t paid out on that until the following year, and there are lapses for that. It will be spent in the following years; it will be revoted; it will reappear in budget, but it’s not spent within that particular year.
Accounting, and knowledge of accounting, is very, very, very critical.
The knowledge of accounting is also very critical when what has been claimed by the media or on the street is that the Yukon is in a deficit position, when the reality is that the Yukon has ended this fiscal year with financial resources of just over $48 million. This means that financial assets exceed the liabilities and that the government is not carrying any net debt. Zero. The surplus for the year ended was just over $5 million, and the accumulated surplus presented in the non-consolidated statements was $413.3 million.
Now, on a consolidated basis, the net financial resources of the government, which includes all government operations and corporations, were $168 million with an accumulated surplus of $559 million. There was a time a couple of years ago, when the Yukon government was working off of a line of credit. We had the money in a line of credit. Now, anybody who has worked with a line of credit realizes that there are interest charges and financing charges, and that’s what we were having to deal with. Now it’s really easy, with a basic misunderstanding of accounting, to think that if there are still cheques in the cheque book there has got to be money in the account. Well, the reality is that there are cheques in the cheque book, but you’re paying good interest on that, and that is certainly not what you want to do.
Now, the government has money in the bank. It’s the second best jurisdiction in Canada, second only to Alberta. That is basic accounting. When you look at the basic accounting and that whole thing, I think there is good evidence to show that this government has done an exceptional job at managing the money. The members are right about one thing, which gets me to the spin part eventually. There was a time when we started when there was a serious problem with their trajectory of spending. Anyone knows that if the income stays level or goes down, with a decreasing population, and the spending goes up, eventually you are going to get in trouble. You don’t need a degree in accounting or a certification as an accountant to understand that. That is a definite problem. We had to pull that trajectory in.
Not only did we have to pull the trajectory in but we had to look at how to use the money that we had available to us, how to get out of the position where we are working off of a line of credit and having to draw on that line of credit and pay interest, but we also had to look at the income side of the ledger — again, basic accounting. It’s very easy to look at where expenditures are going and analyze that, but for some reason nobody really wants to look at the income side of the ledger. We have had help in that. I think all of us on this side of the House will recognize people in Ottawa who have helped with that. But it has been this government that has fought the fight. It has been this government that has gone to the ropes and gotten in with the federal government on a number of different issues and fought that, and has increased the income side of the ledger. With more money available, more business coming in, a better regime for mining, better regime for retail, for wholesale, for housing — for all of these things — obviously income is going to go up from those things and, therefore, expenses can also go up.
Again, this isn’t rocket science, Mr. Speaker.
The member for the third party made some interesting points, and I found myself for a short time rather amazed because I agreed with her. Having been a former Finance minister, she understands what happens with lapses, she understands revotes, she understands projects that won’t be completed and therefore paid until the following budget cycle. She understands all those things and I was so pleased to hear her recognize that. I was very pleased when she said that she was looking forward to hearing the explanations. I believe her comment was, “I’m sure they’re good explanations and I’m really looking forward to seeing them.” Except she followed that within 30 seconds with, “I will be voting against it.”
Well, if you stop and think about that, she has basically said all the right things and concluded with announcing publicly that she’s going to vote against this budget and probably everything else that this government proposes without hearing an explanation, without hearing any of the background information behind it. I find that disappointing; I find that very disappointing.
I have to basically lay that into some of the comments of the previous speaker who is critical about the Legislature coming in so there is more time for debate. Well, the member of the third party has basically said she’s not going to listen to the debate, she’s just going to vote against it anyway. So I would suggest that probably that really wasn’t part of the problem.
One of the things that is interesting in this system of government, Mr. Speaker — and I certainly realize it, and I think a lot of people on the street don’t realize it — is that the role of the opposition is to question; it is to ask the questions and ask for the answers, find the holes, present alternatives. All of us understand that.
But when the opposition simply states that they are going to vote against it without hearing any of those explanations or the answers to any of those questions, that is disappointing. In honour of the day, and Hallowe’en, I’ve got to think that people look at a closet — and there are some people who look at that closet and they don’t see what might be in it, they simply expect a skeleton. I think most people would like to take a look at it and analyze it before they judge, and I’m disappointed in that.
Accountability and accounting — accounting is understanding this. I’m suspicious that is a problem for some people without that kind of background. The Yukon’s per capita ratio of excess financial assets over liabilities is $8,548. We led the nation. We did it again — I believe we did it two years in a row. In 2004 the Yukon, at $265 million, and Alberta at a whopping $14-point-something billion — at that point, who cares — and the Northwest Territories at $84 million — we are the only jurisdictions in Canada to show an excess of financial assets over liabilities. That’s accountability. We solved that trajectory-of-spending problem. We solved the problem with income and we are putting everything to good use.
Now, the previous speaker also mentioned that we are out there spending money all over the map. So, let’s look at what that map has to say. If we look at some of the basics — $10 million to assist with increased costs at Whitehorse General Hospital. Something I heard at the doors constantly in the last election was health care. There is a $6-million increase for pharmacare and chronic disease programs, $1.1 million for specialized medical services, $400,000 to support children with development disorders and assist with a five-step fetal alcohol spectrum disorder plan, $300,000 to provide outreach support to families with FASD, $600,000 to support families with autistic children and $900,000 for additional family support workers.
It’s all over the map, Mr. Speaker. There is $31 million in funding to residential facilities at the Yukon College to be used for the athletes village complex. In the last little while, we’re very proud of the fact that we spent money all over the map. Approximately 2,500 more Yukoners are employed. Yukon’s unemployment rate has dropped to a historic low of 4.8 percent — I believe the second lowest in Canada. The population has increased by another 1,200 minimum — and I would argue it’s substantially more than that. Retail sales have gone up, housing prices have increased, which is a good indicator. And mining exploration in the territory will be over $43 million this year. We’ve reinstated the community development fund. We’ve invested $715,000 into film and sound incentives. That is already shown to be a 9:1 ratio. For every dollar that we put out there, $9 comes back into our economy. We’ve provided $3 million in increased economic development funding for Yukoners through the regional economic development fund, the enterprise trade fund and strategic industries fund.
There are things, Mr. Speaker, in there to criticize, to question, to ask for explanations about. We have no problem with that. But when everything is pre-judged and voted against, and when everyone says that we’re spending money all over the map and not being accountable, that borders on simply not understanding any of this.
The previous speaker also mentioned the Yukon Housing Corporation. Those lapses came from a variety of different ways, and we’ll get into that in the debate, I’m sure, because everything continues to grow. The average selling prices have gone up. There was $25.8 million in new home construction, and Yukoners still purchase lots as fast as they can. We have a number of programs available for creating energy efficient homes, and they are being used. There are EnerGuide programs available for those building new homes, with the latest information on construction techniques and technology to help save energy and money. He questioned how much money of the lapse involved the affordable housing initiative — not a cent. Anyone who reads that program would realize that. Anyone who is familiar with the program would also realize that the money awarded under that program is awarded by a committee and through the Yukon Housing Board. That isn’t a political decision. It has nothing to do with the governing party.
This brings me to the third little word, Mr. Speaker: spin. I can give a couple of examples of spin, one which happened to me awhile back. A woman from the Haines Junction area was quite upset when the words “coal-bed methane” came up. She was vehement that she wanted none of that coal-bed methane in the Yukon. She was a little bit horrified when I mentioned that coal-bed methane is a by-product of coal fields, and, in fact, being a major coal producer, there is a great deal of coal-bed methane in the territory. Our problem is how to regulate it. How do we deal with it? Do we have regulations in place before someone actually starts producing it? Is that part of a coal claim? She was convinced that what we were trying to do was to bring coal-bed methane into the Yukon. That was a pretty good spin.
There were comments before that they wouldn’t call the oil and gas industry very good at this present time. Well, I think there are a lot of Albertans who might disagree with that. A lot of people in other areas that are oil-producing might disagree with that, and certainly the Kotaneelee gas fields in southwest Yukon and the amount of money that comes to Yukon First Nations — they would probably disagree with that.
The other bit of spin that’s rather interesting — and I still have to come back — that high prices are a success. Everything is due to oil and gas prices.
Well, first of all, we’re not selling any oil. It is stranded, as the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources mentioned, and our challenge is to try to get it out because we do have it there. But there are other areas of gas that are also stranded, and that’s part of the gas pipeline debate.
High prices are certainly a factor — they’re definitely a factor — but the last time I checked, the prices were the same worldwide. That’s why they’re called world prices. Has the price of copper gone up? Has the price of all these various things gone up? Yes. Has it helped? Yes. Does it affect all jurisdictions? Yes. Then why now has the unemployment in the Yukon dropped from one of the worst to one of the best? Why have we gone ahead of all other jurisdictions, or most other jurisdictions?
Why is our population coming back? Why are people moving here selectively over other jurisdictions? Mineral prices, metal prices, oil and gas prices have gone up there, too. Why do we have the highest cultural and recreational spending of any jurisdiction in Canada? In terms of provincial and territorial, we’re number one. In terms of municipal, we’re number three in Canada. Why is that?
It’s not just mineral prices. Why do we try to save and protect the environment with better regulations? We are creating parks like Kusawa and Fishing Branch — on and on of ones we’ve done and ones we will be announcing in the future. These are things that we must protect. We don’t disagree with that but, at the same time, we see the economy as being something a little bit better than promoting a welding shop to build another gate so that we can employ somebody to open the gate in the spring and close it in the fall. We need to diversify the economy. We need to do a wide range of things, and that’s something that is definitely a part of this. It’s part of why we are spending the way we are and why we are doing what we are doing.
The other thing that kind of frightened me were comments by the members opposite that the money should be spent elsewhere at the end of the year. My background is working with universities and hospitals and one of the things that I saw there, and I won’t even begin to get into a government analogy on that, was at the end of the budget year people would run around and buy anything that they could. In the hospital, they would fill the shelves with syringes, needles or extra surgical kits, anything that they could, because it was in the budget so we might as well spend it.
But we’re not just spending it; we’re putting it back into the system. We’re reusing it. We’re going to use it for the same programs that will be revoted, or we are going to regroup and look at other programs. These are all things that I find disturbing. Why would we want to spend everything at the end of the year? I won’t even get into the fact that – on what? Things that haven’t been debated in the House? The opposition would jump up and down — and rightly so if we suddenly diverted money to things that weren’t debated in this House. They have to be debated in this House.
The amount of lapses, and later the amount of revotes, ignores cost-savings; it ignores the good work of the departments. The departments have done exceptional work in trying to bring this back. It is a bit frightening when people or a party who want control of government want a spending spree on things that have not been examined in the House. That’s effectively what they’re saying. The lapses have very good reasons. We will be happy, in further debate, to explain those reasons and go into great detail. I just hope that other members of the House on the side opposite will listen to those explanations before they publicly announce that they will automatically vote against it.
Mrs. Peter: I am happy to respond to the Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05. I have been sitting here listening with interest to the comments that have been made, especially to the previous speaker, and some of the language being used. It is frightening. It’s very, very frightening for the Yukon people when we have a government that is in place, a government that is in power and is supposed to stand up and speak on behalf of the Yukon people. We have before us a document, and as I look at it, I am very concerned. I have listened intently to the concerns of the Yukon people within the last few years in my role as MLA. I listened to the people of my community day after day, when people come from the outside into our community to hold meetings on issues of importance, decisions that have to be made on behalf of our people of the Yukon. More recently, I listened with great interest to the questions that were put to the Premier and his Cabinet colleagues when they came to our community on the Premier’s Cabinet tour.
Mr. Speaker, the concerns and the issues of our people out there are very real, so I suggest that this Yukon Party government become very realistic with the Yukon people and the Yukon public. I see before us a document with $60 million lapsing. We voted on a document last spring. We made suggestions to the government on ideas, on concerns, on issues on behalf of our ridings, and today we have a document before us telling us that $60 million wasn’t spent. A lot of promises were made. The government said they had their priorities straight. They had a vision for the Yukon. The previous speaker said the role of the official opposition is to ask questions of the government, and that we do. Whether the answers are forthcoming is another question. We constantly ask questions of this government. One of our roles is to hold the government accountable, and that is exactly what I told my constituents at a public meeting I held a week before I came down. I said my role on their behalf in the Legislature is to hold the Yukon Party government accountable for the commitments that they made to the people of Old Crow, not only in my role as MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin but also in my critic area.
We do that on a daily basis because our communities have a vision for our people. They have priorities that this government is well aware of, because they have such a great relationship with self-governing First Nations, with our chief and councils. I have listened to the Premier stand up on the floor of this House countless times to say what a wonderful relationship he has with the leaders out there in our communities. With the issues that the official opposition have brought up on the floor of this Legislature on the first day of the sitting and again today, I believe those kinds of comments are questionable.
Mr. Speaker, I look at the amount that has not been spent in the capital votes for Community Services — there is over $6 million that has not been spent since last spring. Yes, we have a new terminal in Old Crow and we are very grateful for that. They are addressing the issue that we had with the riverbank. There was one more capital project that was very, very important and the project did not follow through for whatever reason, and that was the resurfacing of the airport.
Mr. Speaker, the resurfacing of the airport in Old Crow was a top priority, and it did not happen. There were a few complaints made to the people responsible for airports, and they had to fly to Old Crow a couple of times. The condition of that airport is very dangerous. It’s not too bad right now since the weather got colder and the water froze up making the surface of the airstrip a lot firmer. It’s not too bad right now, but once everything starts thawing out in the spring, there will be a safety concern again.
Why didn’t that project move forward when there is over $6 million left sitting in Community Services? I think that’s a reasonable question.
In the area of Environment, in capital, there is $264,000 that was not spent. In operation and maintenance, there’s $446,000. We know that the environment is not a priority for this Yukon Party government; however, I’m sure they have heard concerns from the Yukon public over the last three years that they’ve been in power. I know climate change has been on people’s minds. There are people out there in our communities who depend on trapping in the winter months. There are a lot of issues there.
Mr. Speaker, not only are we concerned about our environment, but in my community we are still very much concerned about the plight of the Porcupine caribou herd. Within one week there is a vote that is going to take place in Washington, D.C. That vote is going to determine the future of the Gwich’in people in the Yukon Territory and the Gwich’in people throughout the Gwich’in Nation in Alaska and Northwest Territories.
The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources was very quick to acknowledge that our Premier, as we speak, is chairing a meeting in Vancouver, with the Premier of Alberta, the Premier of B.C. and Alaska’s governor. They are discussing ways to promote projects in the Yukon Territory.
These four leaders are working cooperatively to move projects ahead. Just before the Premier attended in Vancouver, I believe that he participated in an aboriginal resource expo.
Mr. Speaker, the Premier is the most senior voice in this government. He speaks on behalf of me; he speaks on behalf of the people of Old Crow. Mr. Speaker, when this Premier travels outside the Yukon’s borders, he represents all Yukon people. At this aboriginal resource expo, Mr. Speaker, the theme was “Strategies for indigenous self-reliance.” I find that very — I don’t know a parliamentary word for it. For me, there is a concern that my people have been fighting for 20 years. Mr. Speaker, our life depends on the decision that is going to be made in one week. The Premier is out there talking, speaking with key people — most of all, the Governor of Alaska, and there is not one mention in the three news releases in front of me that even acknowledges that there is a group of people in the Yukon Territory that is going to be impacted for the rest of their lives. I find that very — what’s the word to use?
Yet, we can stand up in this House and speak about accountability and the vision that we have. Is it a vision for this Yukon Party government to let the Gwich’in people lose their way of life, a part of their tradition and culture that they’ve known for thousands and thousands of years? Are they willing to stand by and watch that happen? Yet the Premier can stand on the floor of this House and say what a beautiful relationship he has. Where is the priority, Mr. Speaker?
We have communities that have been dealing with their social problems for years and years. I asked a question today of the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate: how are we going to have some of this money go into the communities and deal with the violence and abuses that happen out there?
Looking at this document in front of me, there is $85,000 in operation and maintenance votes within the Women’s Directorate that was not spent within this past year. The communities are screaming for resources. They are screaming for human resources to address some of these issues.
It’s a vicious cycle. How are we going to move forward? The communities have a vision for healthier lifestyles, healthier communities, healthier environments for our children and grandchildren. Yet we can sit on a pot of money and say that we are doing the best that we can. That’s not acceptable. We deal with child welfare. Right now, we have to work in conjunction with the Yukon territorial government until those programs are drawn down. It’s a community responsibility. However, when members of our community are apprehended in such places as Whitehorse, it’s very costly for our First Nation to address those issues on behalf of the families. We do the best we can. Our children are our priority. We do the very best that we can. We spend whatever few resources we have and we make due with whatever manpower we have.
In the social department in Old Crow, they have a caseload that they have to deal with and that is managed between three people. We have people who want to address their alcohol and drug problem and they have nowhere to go. Yet we are sitting on $60 million that was not spent last year.
We have a vision, all right. This government has a vision for where it wants to see the Yukon Territory go, and it is mostly to drill and develop. I wonder what the legacy is going to be for our children and for our grandchildren, if we keep going at this pace.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I am pleased to speak to the 2004-05 supplementary budget for the Department of Justice. In 2004-05, $857,554 was transferred to the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board for the mine safety program. These funds were to cover the operation and maintenance costs for the mine safety program for the fiscal years 2001-02 to 2004-05. The Department of Justice 2004-05 budget was able to absorb $753,244 of this expenditure, resulting in a budget overexpenditure of $104,310. Since the expenditures relating to the fiscal year 2001-02 to 2003-04 were not considered material enough to warrant a prior year adjustment, they were included in the 2004-05 fiscal year’s expenditures.
The Department of Justice assumed responsibility for the mine safety program through devolution in 1989. However, in 1992, it transferred responsibilities for the program to the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. Since that time, the Department of Justice has transferred $329,000 yearly to support the mine safety program, with the exception of the fiscal year 2001-02 to 2004-05.
The Department of Justice has reinstated the annual payments due to the importance of the mine safety program. Recent acceleration of investment, exploration and mine development has increased the need for mine safety programming in the Yukon. There are also many placer mines and abandoned mine sites that still have workplace activity.
Further to this, mine rescue, which supports the mine rescue station and equipment, is maintained by the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board as part of its duties for mine safety under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and regulations. It is because of these reasons that it is necessary for our government to invest in this programming in order to ensure the safety of our mine workers.
I’ve also heard many comments and discussions by previous speakers, and I would like to start by talking a little bit about the working-without-boundaries interdepartmental collaboration project.
The project was started in June 2003. This project started because it was noted that there was a lot of overlapping of different programs.
The objective is to improve the delivery of front-line services by Education, Health and Social Services and Justice to children and families — and from the Women’s Directorate — by removing barriers and strengthening best practices for working together. This consists of a steering committee and a working group that were formed. The three-phase approach was approved on information gathering, solution identification and implementation.
Due to all of this work by the departments agreeing to address issues, the end result came about that there was an issue brought up on the floor of this House with regard to drug trafficking and all the problems that come with that issue. So, between the departments, it was decided that each one would put up $225,000 extra funding for the RCMP. This funding was allocated directly to investigation of supply routes and the distribution of illicit drugs, search and seizure of cocaine and marijuana in the Yukon. Due to the additional funding, many of the drug trafficking and related charges that were brought before are presently before the courts.
For $225,000 invested through the intergovernmental collaboration agreement, investigative efforts by the RCMP over the past 12 months have resulted in over $5-million worth of drugs being removed from drug traffickers — information that will continue to benefit the police in their continued enforcement efforts and give more of a comprehensive understanding of the issues surrounding drug demands and supply in the Yukon. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the RCMP for a job well done. I’m sure that their hard efforts will be noted within the City of Whitehorse and the Yukon Territory as a whole.
Because this is such a very important issue — abuse of drugs and alcohol — I would like to spend more time in this area because this issue will dearly affect the citizens of the Yukon Territory for many years to come if there isn’t an action plan to deal with this.
Out of all this drug and alcohol abuse issue in the Yukon, I would like to give credit where credit is due; therefore, I would like to thank the leader of the official opposition and the member of the third party for their support and involvement with addressing this issue. It was thoughtful that everyone put down their political boundaries and worked together as a collective group to deal with this issue.
On June 6 and 7, 2005, the Government of Yukon hosted a Yukon substance abuse summit in Whitehorse. The purpose of the summit was to bring together representatives of various levels of government, non-government organizations, First Nations and Yukon communities for a focused discussion that would examine effective strategies to respond to drug and alcohol abuse in the Yukon. The summit was a first step in the development of the Yukon substance abuse action plan, and almost 200 delegates participated. Again, Mr. Speaker, I would really like to thank all the staff in Justice who worked so hard in organizing the summit and carrying on into the action plan.
The summit was organized around four themes: healthy individuals/safe communities, prevention and education, responding to those in need, and reducing the harm. Guest speakers from across Canada and local experts were invited to speak to issues related to each theme. Following presentations, delegates met in small groups to discuss solutions to substance abuse in Yukon communities.
The following report was divided into two sections. The first section provided a summary of major themes coming out of the small group discussions. The second selection contains transcripts of the presentations of the main conference speakers. The working group is overseeing the preparation of the Yukon substance abuse action plan that will stem from proceedings of the summit and from further research. This action plan will guide government policy making in the area of substance abuse and serve as a resource for communities that want to develop their own projects.
Mr. Speaker, that was the start of something that developed into something that is now in draft, known as the Yukon substance abuse action plan. The Yukon substance abuse action plan provides a framework for policies and programs designed to reduce harm from the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. The action plan provides opportunities for working with individuals who abuse alcohol and drugs; it addresses the needs of their families and provides meaningful ways for community members to make a positive contribution. The action plan explicitly recognizes a need for the reduction of both supply and demand of alcohol and other drugs. The action plan has been developed after careful consideration of the input received from delegates at the Yukon substance abuse summit. The action plan is a framework document that will help guide the Government of Yukon’s policy responses to problematic substance use in the territory over the course of the next five years. This is a living document that will be reviewed regularly. The focus of the action plan is on problematic substance use and its effects.
“Problematic substance users” refers to use of alcohol or other drugs which have negative consequences for the users’ physical, mental and social well-being. It also refers to the use of substances that have negative consequences for people other than the user.
The terms “substance” or “alcohol” and “other drugs” refer to any psychoactive material that is used for non-medical purposes or misused for medical purposes. This includes alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, illegal drugs, solvents and inhalants.
The action plan includes two key components: coordinated service delivery among all service providers, government and non-government, and a continuum of services that reports to the unique circumstances of individuals and communities.
The coordinated service delivery — for the most part, service providers — operates at the community level with clients within their agencies and with agencies in the communities that may address the different needs of clients. For example, the police, the courts, a social worker and an alcohol and drug counsellor may be able to provide coordinated help to the same individuals or the same family. Included in community services are culturally relevant First Nation options for prevention and treatment. In most instances, particular services and interventions must address age and gender characteristics of the clients in order to be effective.
The Government of Yukon plays a key role in the action plan. The government serves as a service provider, providing direct services relating to harm reduction, prevention and education, treatment and enforcement, and also as an investor, providing funding either directly to communities and NGOs or by ensuring that government services are adequately staffed and funded.
The government is a facilitator, providing the tools for communities to deal with substance abuse issues, conveying meetings, providing technical assistance, assisting with community planning and/or drafting proposals to help the community find funding. Also, as a leader, the government is working with other levels of government such as Yukon First Nations, other provinces and territories and the federal government to advance innovative policies to combat substance abuse. It is important to recognize the complexities and challenges that exist as a result of the many and complex cross-jurisdictional responsibilities and capacities. For example, the Government of Canada, Government of Yukon, and each First Nation government, has responsibilities for some alcohol and drug programming.
There is no shortage of potential partnerships and collaboration in this area. The action plan will address new ways of delivering services that respond to the unique needs and circumstances of the people they are designed to serve. In short, the services must be flexible and must be delivered at the time and in places that are easily accessible by those who are looking for help. By having a continuum of services, services can be effectively targeted to individuals and communities that are most in need, particularly marginalized populations that experience barriers to services due to poverty, homelessness or geographical location.
Mr. Speaker, I have covered this area because I believe it is, again, like I said earlier, a very worthwhile cause that was initiated on the floor of this Legislature and also to demonstrate that Justice was put in as the lead department on this initiative. They have done an excellent job in moving this very important initiative forward and I commend them all for that.
Seeing as how my time is up, I will state that I could probably take up another three days with initiatives that have been implemented that this government said they would do. I’ll close with that.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Mr. Speaker, it’s a pleasure to be back here in the Legislature for the fall sitting. It’s always a pleasure to be here before members to speak about some of the initiatives that we are working on, to talk about progress, and to talk about our vision for the future of Yukon.
Over the last three years, we have indeed been very busy. My colleagues and I have actually almost completed our annual community tour, in which I had the opportunity to participate in roughly 16 out of the 20 communities in the territory. As was further elaborated on by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, the tour has been a really great initiative. It provides us an opportunity to listen to Yukoners at large, and it gives us an opportunity to follow up on some of the very concerns they have raised each year.
I have to say that, by and large, we are reporting progress on many of the initiatives that many of our community residents have raised with us. It’s a really good feeling to know that we are doing some good work on behalf of Yukoners, that we are succeeding in a number of worthy initiatives, and that we continue to work on their behalf to bring some of their dreams and some of their long-standing commitments to fruition.
On community tours progress, I guess one of the things I was really pleased to see was the completion of a number of initiatives that have been in the works over the last three years and we have put forward many funds to make them happen and to see their completion — projects including the airport terminal in Old Crow. Projects such as the renovation at Porter Creek Secondary, including a cafeteria expansion — a long-standing and outstanding need in the Porter Creek community to accommodate the large influx of students to that particular school.
Just recently we were in Marsh Lake, having participated in one of their meetings, and we were pleased to have all three parties together to announce the recreation centre going ahead and to see progress in the form of the foundation being in place and the work to occur with its overall completion, I believe, early next year.
In Mayo, it was great to see that the community centre tender has been recently issued for the construction of their new community centre, yet another long-standing and outstanding need that that community has been asking for for many years — well-deserved and certainly in dire need of replacement.
I think that when we look at areas such as my own riding of Whitehorse West — I am very honoured to represent the residents and constituents of Whitehorse West, where there are some great things happening. The leader of the official opposition referred to Falcon Ridge, which actually is just around the corner from where I have lived for over eight years. It’s unfortunate that the official opposition doesn’t recognize the merits of that particular project.
It is over a $20-million investment in housing, of which our government through the Yukon Housing Corporation was able to contribute I believe around $800,000 toward that. Contrary to what may have been reported in this Legislature, about 99 percent of that work is being completed by local Yukon tradespeople, suppliers, contractors, et cetera. So I am very pleased to see progress on that development.
There are a number of residents already residing within the Falcon Ridge housing area, and I welcome them to my area. I am always pleased to welcome new residents to my constituency and the very fact that they see that living in the City of Whitehorse is a great thing. They have chosen to live in Falcon Ridge, and I’m sure that each of them is very proud to be — whether they’re new home owners or whether they’re retired individuals or people with disabilities, this particular complex has been able to accommodate some of these needs in the city, as we speak, when it comes to housing.
The Copper Ridge Place, which is also in my riding — I am also very proud to be part of a government that has supported this very important health care facility with the opening of another 12 beds to accommodate the growing need, as well as additional rooms and beds in Macaulay Lodge, again to accommodate the growing need. I believe that was just over a $2-million investment. It’s an investment in our seniors, it’s an investment in the Yukoners who have contributed to our economy over the many years, and now we are pleased to be able to assist them by accommodating their needs.
Whether it’s dollars allocated toward expansion of Hamilton Boulevard and Hamilton Boulevard improvements, whether it’s dollars going toward the development of a new neighbourhood park just around the corner from me, as well — these are all great initiatives and these are all initiatives for which people in my riding have said thank you.
When we look at other initiatives going on, there are many other initiatives that we have been working on as a government over the course of the last three years, and there are too many to list here today. We are here to basically discuss the closing of the fiscal year 2004-05 and to talk about those expenditures in two particular areas: the Public Service Commission and the Department of Justice.
Just for the members opposite — the Public Service Commission contains a budget request in Supplementary Estimates No. 3 for $6,884,000, and these costs are amounts that were not known prior to the closing of the financial records at March 31, 2005. The budget includes just over $7 million for employee future benefits, offset by a small lapse of $202,000 in salaries related to unexpected staff vacancies. Employee future benefits include three areas of accounting: one includes employee leave and termination benefits liability. The second area refers to the non-pension post-retirement and post-employment benefit plans, which are new this year because of changes to the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants Public Sector Accounting Handbook. The third area is employer pension plan contributions, related to employee buy-backs, which are also new this year.
It is these new areas — the latter two that I speak of — that have resulted in the increased costs. Employee leave, termination benefits and liability record the accounting liability of the Yukon government to pay out vacation and severance benefits, if and when employees terminate or retire, and the value of this liability is determined by actuaries and is recorded in the public accounts each year. The budget estimated for this account is based on past year’s values. The final amount required cannot be determined, therefore, until after March 31 each year, after departments have made their final transactions in regard to employees who have left the Government of Yukon.
This year’s budget of $4,074,000 was under-subscribed by departments by just over $1 million. Non-pension, post-retirement, and post-employment benefit plans are recorded in conformity with section 3255 of the Public Sector Accounting Handbook. And again, as I mentioned earlier, this is a change in accounting requirements for fiscal years after January 1, 2004.
The Department of Finance and the Public Service Commission have worked with the Auditor General and Yukon government actuaries to record these future benefit obligations in the 2004-05 public accounts. And the amount recorded at the 2004-05 portion of this liability is just over $2.5 million. So, in a nutshell, that is what Public Service Commission dollars reflect within this Supplementary No. 3.
Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to go on a little bit, if I may, regarding some of the other initiatives that we have been talking about and working at over the years. And I’ll just refer to a couple of areas in my departments.
The first stop is the Women’s Directorate, for which I’m very proud to be the minister responsible.
In the Women’s Directorate, we play a number of roles. We advocate within our directorate. We work with our respective departments, primarily Justice, Education, Health and Social Services, as well as the Yukon Housing Corporation, to discuss and to work on areas that require assistance. With respect to some of the initiatives pertinent to women and children in the Yukon, our government is very pleased to be able to assist and provide continued support to our women’s shelters. This year alone, the Department of Health and Social Services provided a three-percent increase to Help and Hope for Families Society in Watson Lake, the Dawson City women’s shelter and Kaushee’s Place. In fact, an additional $93,000 was provided to Kaushee’s Place for expansion of outreach and shelter staffing.
This fall, we are also working with the Department of Health and Social Services to expand the child abuse treatment services, a community outreach program, with an emphasis on family violence issues. We have also made it a priority to work on a public education awareness campaign that targets violence against women and children. I believe it was about a year ago that we were in the Legislature, and we received all-party support for this initiative. I would like to think that we as Members of the Legislative Assembly all remain supportive of this initiative.
The Women’s Directorate has also set aside dollars for policy initiatives, violence prevention initiatives, one of which includes self-advocacy training for women in rural communities, something that was identified as a priority by the Yukon Status of Women in a recent report focusing on rural Yukon.
We have also provided funding for the third year in a row for the annual Women’s Forum, which was able to bring about 40 people from all over the Yukon to participate in this annual two-day forum. It’s very well-received by all women in the territory. It’s a opportunity to get together to talk about some of the challenges that face women in all our communities and how we can address some of these issues by working collectively and collaboratively together among ourselves and among the respective levels of government. We have also been working on the creation of a safety kit to support Yukon women in crisis, which will be formally launched later this month, in part in recognition of the month of November, which marks Women’s Abuse Prevention Month.
We continue to also support the Department of Justice in VictimLINK, providing crisis counselling services via telephone, a 1-800 number that is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to all communities in the Yukon.
We have also worked over the last couple of years with the Department of Justice toward looking at amendments to the Family Violence Prevention Act, which have been tabled in this sitting, and I look forward to the debate on that particular bill.
The amendments that have come forward really do strengthen the act that was brought into effect and force a few years ago. There are a number of areas that we continue to work on with our respective advocacy groups and the RCMP. The crime prevention and victim services trust fund amendments that were passed last fall actually increase the amount of resources available to programs that address victims and crime prevention needs, and I just wanted to refer, for members opposite, to — just recently, last week actually, October 28, we finished awarding just under $200,000 to support projects aimed at crime prevention and victim services. Three projects address violence against aboriginal women while one continues to make a difference for people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder — including the Yukon Women’s Transition Home Society, FASSY, Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society and Kwanlin Dun First Nation.
I commend and congratulate each of these organizations and governments that have received funds to address this very dire issue that continues to prevail in each jurisdiction in the country.
In addition, we have hired a First Nation liaison to work on violence prevention with our communities. In fact, our director of the Women’s Directorate and the liaison have been to the communities and are continuing to work with the communities to raise awareness and to find creative ways as to how to tackle these issues. I mentioned before that we have also been working with respective departments on the implementation of the substance abuse action plan. Again, it is another really good initiative that I just wanted to say includes a proposal to enhance training for communities on women and substance abuse, violence, and resources to support community programming to address the needs of high-risk young women. Again, that’s another excellent initiative that we are working on.
We also continue to host education workshops on gender, violence for front-line community workers, one of which is entitled, “Men Can Stop Rape”, that was held in conjunction with Sexual Assault Prevention Month. We have done a whole host of initiatives, and I have pages here to reflect that, but I know that I’m running out of time.
I did, though, want to conclude by saying that we work diligently as a government. As members on the opposite side know, if they’ve ever had an opportunity to serve on the government side — we all strive to do our best. It is unfortunate that sometimes in the world of politics we cannot pay accolades where accolades are warranted. Yes, there is always room for improvement, and yes, there is always much work to be done, but we as individuals strive to do the best we can for our communities. I would hope that some of the members opposite, including ourselves, take the time to reflect on our accomplishments as well as on all the work that is needed to be done, and how by working together we can accomplish so much more than working in isolation.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cathers: It gives me pleasure to rise in the House today in support, of course, of this budget. It’s always a tough act to follow when one is following the Member for Whitehorse West. I’ve appreciated hearing the debate today from members in this House, and it’s nice to see that, as far as a sign of where Yukon has come from three years ago, that even the opposition now grudgingly acknowledges that the Yukon economy is doing better and that there is much more optimism in the public, and the only debate that occurs in this House is around whether it was all careful planning on the part of the Yukon Party government and careful investment, or whether it just happens to be a nice coincidence. Of course, when one looks through history, one has to note that the Yukon economy has always improved after the Yukon Party has come in, and always gone the other direction after the election of the NDP or the Liberals.
Mr. Speaker, it’s nice to note some of the signs of economic growth: the 200 new houses mentioned by the member of the third party that have gone up in Copperbelt in the past couple of years and are a sign of a growing economy, and the higher property values there are a sign of a growing economy. This is all due, in large part, to the leadership that has been shown by this government: that we are open to business; that we are welcoming investment; we’ve cut corporate taxes; we’ve invested in strategic industries; and we’ve worked with business to enhance the economy across the board.
In reviewing my comments from Hansard in previous budget debates, I noticed a few issues. And since we are talking about the close-off of the 2004-05 fiscal year, I’d like to touch on a few of them and provide an update to any constituents who are listening and touch on a few related matters.
The 2004-05 fiscal year was the first year that the well-drilling program was brought into place. This was a program, the idea for which was brought forward to me originally by a couple of constituents who had thought of the idea of structuring a well-drilling program based on the rural electrification program. I went to work with my colleagues in the government caucus, and they were supportive of this program, and we developed that.
This year, the 2005-06 year, is the first year it has been in place the entire year. It did come into fruition in September of last year, September of 2004.
This summer has seen the next stage in the ongoing issue regarding the Hot Springs Road. We’ve done engineering to look at widening the Hot Springs Road and adding a cyclist or multi-use lane. This is something that was brought forward by constituents. It was supported by the people at the meeting where it was raised — the public meeting that I was hosting at that time. Feedback via e-mail and through my newsletter was strong. There was actually no one in opposition to that who came forward at that time, and it has money allocated for it in the budget, and the engineering is ongoing right now with the functional planning report due early in 2006.
There was brushing along the Mayo Road between kilometre 197.8 and kilometre 218, which was also based on a constituent request. They’re currently doing engineering — or it was done this summer, rather, to determine what needs to be done to bring the Mayo Road up to a 100-kilometre standard between the Takhini River bridge and Fox Lake campground. Continuation of asphalt work along the Mayo Road, the relocation of the Couch Road access, continued upgrades to Takhini River Road and work on a number of other roads — all of these are issues that have been brought forward to me by constituents, and I have touched on a number of them in the House previously in budget debate.
Also, where the Alaska Highway goes through the Ibex Valley area, there is one section of road that has continuously been a problem with permafrost creating a rough section of road, despite improvements and ongoing repair. In response to the Member for Kluane, he would note that work was done on that again this summer, as has been done before. I have asked the Minister of Highways and Public Works to look into the feasibility of taking measures such as installing thermal siphons as is done in some areas of Alaska. The minister responded that they will consider that. They will be doing engineering and looking at the feasibility of that. However, the cost of that does run typically up to $2 million U.S. per mile. It is a very expensive improvement to make, but as we all know, that section of road seems to simply swallow up the road improvements, and in the long term is going to use quite a bit of money, not to mention that the road itself is often an impediment to traffic and causes difficulty for people who are pulling fifth wheels or trailers or have campers on the back of their trucks when they’re going over that area. Also, obviously during icy winter conditions, having rougher roads does create a safety issue.
There was also a study done this summer looking at the planning improvements to the Alaska Highway intersections in Whitehorse, including the Mayo Road and Alaska Highway junction and the Two Mile Hill junction — both areas that are of concern to constituents of mine.
Other items that were continued — we have the continuation of the $75,000 annual funding for the Mae Bachur Animal Shelter, which was an issue brought forward to me through a request from constituents, and an increase to another non-governmental organization that also does hard work on behalf of Yukoners, the Yukon Agricultural Association.
With regard to the well-drilling program, of course there has been the ongoing issue of getting it extended to municipalities. As members will be aware, the original intent of the program was that it be made available within municipalities. However, as with the rural electrification program, the ability to offer the program rests with the government that is the taxation authority. The Yukon government cannot offer the program in an area where it is not a taxation authority unless it has an agreement with the government that is. Within the City of Whitehorse, the taxation authority is the city.
Now, when the program was brought in, we didn’t expect this to be a major stumbling block. The rural electrification program and the rural telephone program have been made available in areas such as First Nation land in the past, through arrangements with the government. It’s a fairly simple arrangement that can be made, and we expected that that would be done without much delay on the part of municipalities.
Unfortunately, they have had some concerns, and discussions are ongoing on this matter. Again, I would urge them — particularly the City of Whitehorse, which does contain some of my constituents in the areas of MacPherson and Hidden Valley and Forestview — to look past the obstacles and come up with a solution, because this program has been very beneficial for constituents of mine and for other Yukoners. It enables a family that may not be able to afford a well to spread the cost of that well over a period of up to 15 years. It normally brings the yearly cost of drilling a well under what they’re paying for water delivery. But, for many of them, to go into the bank to get a loan, they are being required to make that repayment within a far shorter period of time. They are often given two years as a time to repay it, and that often makes it completely unfeasible for them.
Mr. Speaker, regarding the 2004-05 budget and the figures contained therein — the close-off of that — and also the one we’ll be discussing shortly, the 2005-06 supplementary budget, I’d just urge all members, and indeed the general public, to take a look at those documents, to take a look at the glossary in the beginning, which explains some of the terms from full accrual accounting that they may not be familiar with. As has been raised by other members, full accrual accounting is a system that has been used for years by companies and corporations throughout Canada and is an accepted standard. It was recommended by the Public Sector Accounting Board and by the Auditor General that all jurisdictions move to full accrual accounting as it shows a more accurate position of the finances and is designed to prevent some of the off-balance sheet activities that can go on, such as with companies like Enron. It’s designed to be a more accurate picture of the finances, but the terms are not always familiar to people.
We saw in the paper last week that there was a confusion — as reported in the one newspaper — appearing to come on the part of both the leader of the NDP and the leader of the Liberal Party that was what I can only classify as a lack of understanding of the terms “surplus” and “deficit” and what an annual surplus was in comparison to an accumulated surplus, and also the difference between net financial resources and the accumulated surplus — which is composed of both net financial resources and net non-financial resources.
And for the members of the public who have not picked up a copy of the most recent budget — the 2005-06 supplementary, the current estimate of where the Yukon will be at the end of this year, the net financial resources — which in simplistic terms is basically cash or cash equivalents — the estimated net financial resources at the end of the year will be $23,205,000 cash in the bank: what that basically relates to. And the accumulated surplus, which includes the non-financial resources, is the much larger figure of $430,619,000.
Again, I would urge all members for both the 2004-05 supplementary and the 2005-06 supplementary to take a look at the terms and take the time to understand them and, if they don’t understand them, perhaps find somebody who can assist them. I would urge members of the public to do the same. I think that a review of the financial position, both from 2004-05 fiscal year-end and 2005-06 current and projected makes it very clear that the Yukon’s finances are in a very good situation. It’s a far cry from the previous government, when the Yukon was actually in an overdraft position to pay for its ongoing bills. They were dipping into overdraft and paying the cost of doing so, which was the first time that had been done in Yukon history. We have gone to the other end of the spectrum, where we have a fairly comfortable cushion of cash in the bank and we are moving forward with the Yukon’s future.
I thank the members opposite for their helpful commentary.
Mr. Speaker, another issue of great importance to my constituents that I would like to touch on is something that was raised in tonight’s Yukon News. Page 3 has an article noting that changes to the Wildlife Act have been delayed to allow more time for consultation, which I support.
It’s good for everyone to be aware of what’s being dealt with. The article contains a sentence referring to the issue of ownership of game farm animals. It contains a sentence saying, “So once a privately purchased Alberta elk crosses the Yukon border, it technically becomes public property.” Ironically, the same newspaper contains an article on page 7 that quotes from the Magna Carta which, as members know, was signed in the year 1215 and is the very origin of our democratic system. The pertinent part of the quote from the Magna Carta is that, “No free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or deprived of his property.”
I would ask if the opposition doesn’t see the problem with the current Wildlife Act. The amendment to the Wildlife Act was to clarify the definition of “wildlife”. It is not about expanding game farming; it is not about public wildlife; it does not in any way, shape or form allow wild populations to be domesticated or allow for hunt farms, nor does it diminish the rights of First Nations in any way, shape or form. It is about property rights; it is about bringing the Wildlife Act into line with the Magna Carta and with our legal system, which protects the right to own property.
I further point out that the Umbrella Final Agreement specifically exempted game farm animals from being wildlife for this very purpose, and I urge all members, the media and groups to remember that the debate of the Wildlife Act and the amendment related to game farming is not a debate over policy.
The Wildlife Act, as passed by the Liberals, says that my constituents do not own their animals — their property. Nearly 800 years of law within our system says they do. We need to fix the Wildlife Act and protect the rights our forefathers fought for and, in some cases, died while defending.
It’s important to support the decision to delay the amendment to give the public time to understand it, but I urge all members — I implore all members — to think very carefully of what they are doing, if they dare to question my constituents’ property rights. If government can take your animals, next they can take your car, your house, your land. This is not just about a few people. This is about a fundamental principle of free and democratic society — the right to own property and to not be deprived of that property except through due process of law.
Mr. Speaker, I believe I’m running out of time. I will conclude by noting that this budget is an excellent budget that puts forward respect for Yukoners; it puts forward a very sound picture of representing the territory, and, Mr. Speaker, unlike the previous government that passed the amendment to the Wildlife Act, which put property rights in jeopardy, this budget takes into account the full picture and takes into account the ramifications of the decisions that we make as government. And if members don’t understand that, well, somewhat facetiously, Mr. Speaker, if you’ll excuse the sarcastic remark, considering it is Halloween, the scariest thing I can think of is having them in government.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Before the honourable member stands up, I can’t let that go by, Member for Lake Laberge. The principle that this House operates upon is one of respect. I’m not going to ask the member to withdraw the remark, but those types of remarks are bordering on being disrespectful. I would just ask the member, in the future, to consider it before he says it, please.
You have the floor, Minister of Health and Social Services. If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Speaker: We accept there is a member not here. You have the floor, Minister of Health and Social Services.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: One speaks of respect and, in that context, there is respect of position, and there is respect when one accomplishes something. This supplementary budget that closes off the 2004-05 fiscal year is one for which our party has earned respect.
Our government has done an excellent job of restoring investor confidence in the Yukon economy, attracting Yukoners back to the Yukon for employment opportunities, for investment opportunities, and for opportunities for a quality of life that’s probably second to none in Canada.
There’s a spirit of optimism out there, Mr. Speaker, that I haven’t detected in the Yukon for quite a number of years. One only has to look at the many, many accomplishments in areas so numerous that I can only highlight but a few.
Mining — mining exploration: from a dismal less than $6-million annual exploration budget to this year, which will be $50 million plus, probably bumping off $60 million — that in itself is an accomplishment.
We look at oil and gas and the investment that industry has made in the Yukon, not only in redrilling wells in the Kotaneelee, but also in exploratory wells in the Peel Plateau. Redrilling the wells in the Kotaneelee has allowed for an improvement in flows, which results in improvement in dollars flowing into the Yukon’s pockets, which are shared among all the First Nation governments.
That is an accomplishment, because the trends were a downhill trend. It was only through the efforts of our government that the oil and gas industry has returned, that mining exploration has returned. Our government sent a clear message to industry that some of the flawed processes that were underway by the previous administration would be stood down. We were going to address issues with respect to the environment in an environmentally sustainable way. Yes, we have a number of areas where we have surpluses but it appears that we have pretty well maxed out the capacity in Yukon for construction in a number of areas. If we were to tender additional large jobs out, it would mean in all probability that those successful would be from somewhere other than the Yukon, that they would be the recipients of these contracts.
The exercise that our government has spent a considerable amount of time going through is how to maximize benefits for Yukoners, whether they be First Nations, whether they be those that have chosen to make the Yukon their home, whether they be born and raised here in the Yukon. All deserve opportunities. We do so in the context of final agreements with our partners, the First Nations, that are moving forward.
I listened attentively to what the official opposition and the third party had to say about this budget, about this supplementary, clearly identifying that they will be voting against it. So be it.
I would ask that the members opposite stand in front of a mirror and ask the question: has their situation in the Yukon today not improved from what it was before we came to power? I know there might be a few exceptions. The former Premier might say, no, it has gone backwards, but that is something else, Mr. Speaker.
The bottom line is that, for the majority of Yukoners, economic situations and opportunities have improved here in the Yukon, and improved considerably. One only has to look at the many areas in education where programming has been expanded and funding has been flowing to Yukon College to the trades programs. In fact, on the first day of this sitting, Mr. Speaker, one of the questions posed by the official opposition was: what are we doing for training? We have a shortage of skilled workers. Well, yes, we do now; we didn’t a few years ago when our skilled workforce had to leave the Yukon under previous administrations to find suitable employment. Those coming up through our educational system today want that opportunity. By and large, they want to see the world, but they do want the opportunities right here at home. That window of opportunity is growing under our party’s watch.
One of the other areas that we are very, very proud of as a party is our enhancement of the childcare programs here in the Yukon.
Today, despite the lack of federal government funding flowing to the Yukon in this area, despite the federal Liberal government’s commitment to $5 billion over five years, the Yukon has a commitment from the federal minister of $500,000 for accountability and a lesser sum in the first fiscal year for programming. That, in itself, shows clearly that the Yukon and the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are on an uphill sled ride with respect to providing a uniform service delivery model — which the federal government is demanding — on basically per capita funding. It’s impossible, and the argument to Minister Dryden was well made by my colleague from the Northwest Territories on behalf of Nunavut, us and the Northwest Territories that base funding plus per capita is an absolute necessity. We didn’t get very far.
Many of the other initiatives that our government has undertaken are with respect to programs that have been delivered by non-government organizations. One only has to go into the Watson Lake or the Dawson City area, all across the Yukon — whether it be home care, women’s shelters, or assistance for those who require assistance — where there has been a demonstrated need, our government has done its level best to meet that demonstrated need.
And we’ve done so very, very well.
We’ve had a number of challenges in the health care field. One of those challenges is the rapidly increasing cost of drugs. Whereas today, the largest single cost in the health care envelope is the purchase of drugs, a few years ago it was the health care requirements for personnel, specifically medical personnel. That’s no longer the case. We have many, many examples of costs that, just a few short years ago, for chemo drugs were just around $30,000. The same quantity now is virtually 10 times that amount, $300,000. That clearly indicates a number of the challenges that we are faced with.
At the same time, where a demonstrated need existed in social assistance rates, our government met the challenge. After extensive consultation, we increased the rates in a category that needed an increase. Today the Yukon still has in many categories the highest or second highest rates of social assistance in Canada.
There has been a little bit of a downward trend in the requests for social assistance. That is directly related to the economic activity that has been stimulated by our government — economic activity, Mr. Speaker, that we are very proud of, economic activity that will bode well for the Yukon into the next few years and beyond.
We have every reason to believe, given our strong platform as a party and given the success rate we’ve achieved in delivering on our party platform, we will succeed in forming the next government.
We also have a number of challenges in quite a few areas. Whitehorse is now probably one of the greatest cities in Canada that one can live in as far as amenities, as far as sports and recreation, as far as our proximity to the great outdoors. Golf courses — it doesn’t matter what your field of enjoyment or pleasure is, it’s all here and it’s growing. Hockey rinks, running tracks — yes, a lot of it has come into place for the Canada Winter Games but that legacy will continue and those facilities will be used by all. I know that my family and I have used them extensively over the past while and a lot of residents from rural Yukon will continue to be in awe of a lot of these attractions here — sports and recreation-wise.
Our government has taken a balanced approach. We’ve restored investor confidence, created an economy again and balanced the budget. We have an unqualified audit by the federal Auditor General, and that in itself is a true indication of our dedication to financial management.
And yes, we have a lot of officials in the Department of Finance and in other areas we have to thank for assisting, but all the tools have been there. It’s just a matter of lining things up and doing what is right for Yukoners. There’s no magic formula. It’s the business of people. It’s the business of having opportunities in all the areas.
An unqualified audit for three years in a row in itself is quite a feat, given the many, many messes that we were left with by the previous administration. All we have to look at is the Mayo-Dawson transmission line and the Auditor General’s report on that fiasco; the Energy Solutions Centre and the Auditor General’s report on that fiasco; the situation in my home community that was allowed to grow under the previous Liberal administration, where some $22 million was spent. And we have a $12-million — $11-point-something-million — recreational centre that Dawsonites might be hard-pressed to utilize for a very short period of time. In fact, last fiscal period was over $100,000 just to heat and keep the lights on in that building, and it was used for, I believe, 63 or 64 days.
Now, contrast that to what was accomplished in a community like Watson Lake. It has three sheets of artificial ice for curling, a regulation-size hockey arena, squash courts, weight rooms, viewing rooms, a community centre and a bowling alley. Mr. Speaker, it can be done.
It can be done with a reasonable amount of money and within a reasonable time period, but there has to be a determined skillset there to manage money properly. That’s what it’s all about at the beginning, and then it’s putting that money to work where it can maximize the rate of returns. At the same time, our government committed to no new taxes, no new fees. We’re on target there, Mr. Speaker, unlike previous administrations. In fact, we’ve seen a reduction in a number of taxes in a number of areas. Those provide incentives to the small businesses to continue to grow and to continue to expand. So across the board, whether it be Economic Development, Education, Health and Social Services, or NGOs or volunteer organizations, whether it be our fire departments, whether it be our ambulance services — all these areas have been looked at and examined. Resources have been put to these organizations to allow them to continue in the way they want to continue — by serving Yukoners. And we are very, very thankful for all our NGOs.
The area that we’re currently working on, Mr. Speaker, which is a collaborative effort between the departments of Justice, Education, Health and Social Services and the Women’s Directorate is substance abuse. It may come as no surprise to many of us here that the biggest problem the Yukon has is substance abuse.
It used to be just liquor, but now it’s drugs — big-time drugs. It doesn’t take one very long to go into any of the Yukon communities to find out what the basis of the problems are. In my community, it’s well-known that booze is one of them and a number of the other drugs are problematic.
The summit that this government put together has identified these issues and we are moving forward — three departments in a collaborative effort to address these issues. Resources will be put in place to deal with this. At the end of this last budget cycle, public accounts closed out with increases for the Public Service Commission and Justice — two categories. Overall, our government has done an exemplary job of looking after the public’s purse and we will continue to do so. I recommend highly this supplementary to this House.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Disagree.
Mr. McRobb: Disagree.
Mr. Cardiff: Disagree.
Mrs. Peter: Disagree.
Ms. Duncan: Disagree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are eight yea, five nay.
Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 16 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 16, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05. Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Some Hon. Members: Disagree.
Chair: There does not appear to be unanimous consent to have a recess.
Bill No. 16 — Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05
Chair: We will begin with general debate.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I am pleased to present the Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05 and its many, many benefits for Yukoners to this House this afternoon.
One only has to look at the areas where we have improved the economy of the Yukon and where we have addressed the many issues that had fallen by the wayside under the previous two administrations.
In this supplementary that closes off our last fiscal year, the Auditor General has determined that this audit is unqualified, and that in itself bodes well for the accounting procedures that are being followed by our government, that have been undertaken, and the prudent fiscal steps, of which there are many, that address our responsibility as a government to Yukoners.
This Bill No. 16, this supplementary, identifies two areas where we have incurred an overexpenditure, the first one being a mine safety issue that has been resolved between the Government of Yukon — Department of Justice — and the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. This has been a long-standing issue that survived a number of governments and just another area that our government had to address and deal with that costs dollars. Under the previous Liberal administration, the funding that had flowed from Canada to Yukon for the express purpose of implementing mine safety and mine rescue was diverted to other programs under the then Liberal Minister of Justice.
Therein the problem grew. Today the mine safety program has been in existence, continues to be in existence and is well cared for and well looked after by Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. We have probably some of the best people overseeing that area.
Mr. Chair, one of the largest or one of the major appropriations was by the Department of Justice, and I’m sure when we get into the line-by-line, the Minister of Justice will explain fully what has transpired, should it be required, because I know the member of the third party knows full well what transpired, why it happened, and I am hopeful that the light of day will prevail as to the course of action that had to be taken to put this back on track.
The other area where there has been a significant increase that led to this supplementary was in the Public Service Commission. The Public Service Commission was faced with quite a number of long-standing issues, dealing primarily with pension plans, superannuation, buybacks and the like that required an appropriation to address the shortfalls. The minister responsible for the Public Service Commission will outline clearly what these areas were and why this expenditure was necessary.
As I said earlier, Mr. Chair, in my closing remarks on this supplementary, our overall fiscal responsibility as a government has been to serve the taxpayers of the Yukon and indeed Canada as well as we possibly can while growing the economy, restoring investor confidence, putting the light back on so that there are opportunities — the light that left the Yukon a short number of years ago on the back of the U-Haul trailers going south. It was a U-Haul economy for quite a number of years. Anybody who was looking for work had to go somewhere else to find that work — whether the Northwest Territories, Alberta, or British Columbia. We only have to look back a few short years — if we want to look at mining exploration, Yukon was down at less than $6 million annually. Yet in Alaska, in the Northwest Territories and in British Columbia, mining exploration was at an all-time high and growing.
So, what does matter is the political climate of the respective jurisdictions and the message sent by the government of the day to industry: here are the terms and conditions under which we operate, and here are the terms and conditions under which our environment sustainability framework is based, and if you can conform, we would love and welcome you to return to the Yukon. What happened? They did.
They’re here today, and the leader of the third party would suggest it’s because of world economic conditions. Well, they do play into it but, in large part, all the efforts from world trade growing were directed at our neighbouring jurisdictions, with the Yukon being bypassed because of the political climate here.
Mr. Chair, that has changed. We’re moving forward. We’ve moved forward on a lot of fronts, and we will hopefully continue to move forward on many, many more. This Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05 that the opposition benches voted against saw money flow to many areas. I’m sure that the official opposition and the third party didn’t mean to signal that they weren’t in favour of the mine safety/mine rescue program, or that they weren’t in favour of the pension plans for our public sector employees, or superannuation for those who have chosen to buy back in. I hope that’s not the case.
When we look at where we are today and where we’re heading, our government has signalled quite clearly what we are concentrating on and where we are moving forward.
Our First Nations relations and the bill before us in this session is but one example. There are a number of other bills originating from the Department of Justice, as well as other bills that we still have three remaining days to table, Mr. Chair.
I am very thankful that my colleagues and I have had the discussions and the thoughtful processes that we go through to move forward in delivering programs and services to Yukoners because it is starting to come home when you see how vibrant the Yukon economy is today, what opportunities we have for our youth today, what opportunities — whether it be in the education system, whether it be for employment, there is a whole sector. Whether it be attending post-secondary education here in the Yukon or going on to post-secondary education elsewhere, our government has provided and enhanced some of the best funding ever that any Canadian could ever hope for. And we still have challenges.
We’re hearing demands for facilities — a multi-level care facility in the Member for Kluane’s riding that we have studied and we will continue to examine. When viable, our government will undertake to construct such a facility.
We’ve enhanced recreational facilities across the Yukon. It was a pleasure attending at their new community centre in Ross River. It was beautiful to see the smiles on the people’s faces in some of these communities, with the wonderful facilities that they have in place. They will continue to grow. There are currently two new facilities planned and underway. In Marsh Lake, the foundation is in. I’m sure that will be ready sometime early next year, and that will enhance the services to that community.
Marsh Lake is probably one of the second largest populated areas in the Yukon — that area just south of Whitehorse. It has basically grown to be a bedroom community of Whitehorse. It is quite large in its population base, and it deserves the attention that our government is directing to that area.
Mayo is receiving a new community centre and that community centre will enhance the whole community and bring new invigorated life to Mayo itself. Their community centre goes back quite a number of years.
And even though it came in overbudget, and even though the members opposite opposed the budget that contained the envelope to pay for that facility, in part, that project is going ahead, as is a wonderful education facility in Carmacks. The ground has been broken in Carmacks and construction is proceeding as we speak.
Across the Yukon, whether you go to Old Crow, Carmacks, Watson Lake, Whitehorse or Destruction Bay, there are a lot of initiatives underway — a tremendous amount going on. And we have not stood down on our basic services to Yukoners. We have not increased taxes, and we have not increased service charges, like previous administration have.
Mr. Chair, this is a bill that closes off the last fiscal year-end, and I’d be pleased to share more of my thoughts with the members opposite tomorrow on this very same topic.
With that, Mr. Chair, I move that you report progress on Bill No. 16, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that we report progress on Bill No. 16, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05.
Motion agreed to
Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Jenkins that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I 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. 16, Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:57 p.m.
The following Sessional Paper was tabled October 31, 2005:
Public Accounts of the Government of Yukon for the year ended March 31, 2005 (Jenkins)
The following documents were filed on October 31, 2005:
Whistle-blower Legislation, Select Committee on: letter dated September 12, 2005 from the Hon. Elaine Taylor, Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission to Todd Hardy, Leader of the Official Opposition (Taylor)
Whistle-blower Legislation, Select Committee on: letter dated September 12, 2005 from the Hon. Elaine Taylor, Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission to Pat Duncan, Leader of the Third Party (Taylor)
Alaska Highway Pipeline Facilitation, Terms of Reference: letter dated August 16, 2005 from Dennis Fentie, Premier to Chief Mike Smith, Kwanlin Dun First Nation (McRobb)
Oil and Gas Commission, proposed: letter dated September 29, 2005 from Andy Carvill, Grand Chief, Council of Yukon First Nations to the Hon. Dennis Fentie, Premier (McRobb)