Tuesday, December 13, 2005 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker: We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
In remembrance of Corporal Peter Greenlaw
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I rise today to pay tribute to the late Corporal Peter Greenlaw. I would like to ask the members of the Legislature to recognize Corporal Greenlawís family. His wife Deborah, son Graydon, and daughter Sheena have joined us in the visitors gallery today.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Corporal Greenlaw was a police officer with 20 years of service to the Yukon. He was a dedicated volunteer and an active member of our community. He made a very significant impact in the lives of many Yukoners, and for that we pay tribute to him today.
Corporal Greenlaw first visited the Yukon in 1980, when he came up here to visit a friend and see if the Yukon might be a possibility on his list of places he wanted to live. Corporal Greenlaw did choose the Yukon as his home, as the place to continue his career, and the place to raise his family.
In January of 1986, Corporal Greenlaw and his wife Deborah drove across Canada from Simcoe, Ontario and headed for Dawson City, Yukon. Corporal Greenlaw worked for four years in Dawson City and later moved to Whitehorse where he lived for the past 15 years. He quickly became known during this time as an invaluable member of our community. In 1996 he began working as the RCMP drug awareness coordinator. Through this work, he connected to countless organizations and individuals. He worked closely with many Yukon government departments including Health and Social Services, Education and Justice.
Corporal Greenlaw has been described by his partners in these government departments as a forward, global thinker who had an ability to see the big picture and all the connections in-between; for example, he was instrumental in the creation of the unique collaboration called SASSY, or Substance Abuse Strategies and Solutions for Yukon. This partnership between Education, Alcohol and Drug Services, Health and Social Services, Justice and the Council of Yukon First Nations was a creative way to coordinate work and plans for the prevention of substance abuse by youth.
He understood the need for a long-term commitment and helped to create the vision for continued development of pro-social skills of students in the public school system as an approach to combating substance abuse.
Mr. Greenlaw was a dedicated community volunteer; for example, he was instrumental in the creation and progression of the Trans Canada Trail in the Yukon and he was an important member of the Klondike Snowmobile Association.
Corporal Greenlaw was passionate about improving the lives of Yukon youth; for example, over the past number of years he supported the F.H. Collins music, art and drama program in the creation and dissemination of positive choices for youth. He made sure all Yukon youth had access to this message.
Corporate Greenlaw was a leader who was not deterred by obstacles that he and his partners were often presented with when working on important projects. Whether it was getting pizza for a group of hungry youth or organizing transportation to bring youth role models to communities during National Addictions Awareness Week, Corporal Greenlaw always quietly took care of whatever details were required to get things done.
†His knowledge and commitment will be greatly missed. His work will continue, not only because of the resources that he developed, but also because he made a very positive difference to some of the youth he supported through these various projects. His contribution to the collective work of Yukon agencies has been a credit to the RCMPís drug awareness service and a reflection of a thoughtful and dedicated person.
In both his work and community contributions, Corporal Greenlaw demonstrated this commitment to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, to collaborative efforts, to our community and to his family.
Corporal Greenlaw spent many hours talking about and building military models with his 15-year-old son Graydon. They both have a great love of history and Graydon will continue to create the diorama they built together in their imaginations over the past number of months.
Sheena, 13, shared her fatherís love of basketball. Since Corporal Greenlaw was feeling much better after starting home hemodialysis last spring, he started coaching Sheenaís basketball team. He had played on the provincial winning team back in New Brunswick, and she was lucky enough to inherit his athletic abilities and continues to exceed in the sport.
Deborah shared and enjoyed her life with Pete immensely. She proclaims that moving to the Yukon was the time in their lives when life truly became an adventure. They lived every day. Peter taught her and her family that if they really wanted something, then anything was attainable. She will miss his wonderful sense of humour but will always cherish the time that they had together.
Corporal Peter Greenlaw will be missed by many. He will be remembered for his time, energy, support and commitment to working in partnership with others. He was known by those he worked with for his constant sending and sharing of information, research and encouragement. He also had the ability to make dreams come true for many people. He recently received a note from a youth he had once worked with, and, as was his style, he shared this note with colleagues and introduced it with a simple, short message. It said, ďWe do make a difference.Ē
On behalf of the Government of Yukon, we pay tribute to the important difference Corporal Peter Greenlaw made to our community.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Hardy: It is an honour for me to rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to Corporal Peter Greenlaw and offer our condolences to the family.
Now, for me, the life of Peter Greenlaw represents what a good community is all about. He lived a life that we would wish everyone in our communities would have. We would like to fill our communities with people who care. Peter did care. In his work as a drug awareness coordinator, he showed time and again that he was putting his skills and knowledge to work for the youth of the Yukon. His talents were wide, and he contributed to the music, arts and drama program while coaching basketball and soccer and also keeping the Trans Canada Trail open for snowmobilers.
Mr. Speaker, in our ideal community, filled with people who care, they would not simply spend time doing good things because it was their job. They wouldnít become involved with others just during their workday. They would integrate their concern into every part of their life, all hours of the day. Peter did that. He did that even when he became seriously ill. He still put the community ahead of his own personal struggles.
In our ideal community, people with authority would have the respect of everyone because of their personal qualities. Peter gave us that, quietly and gently. There are many young people whose view of the RCMP was changed because Peter showed kindness and caring to everyone he came across. One young woman said, ďHe totally changed my attitude toward the RCMP.Ē
I had many conversations with Peter over the last few years, and just about every conversation was an inspiration for me and a support for the work that I was involved in. Peter always shared the time and the wisdom that he had and the struggles that he had gone through in dealing with drugs in the communities and gave encouragement to continue to move forward and recognize that it takes a community to make the change, not an individual. Thatís what Peter did. He put other people ahead of himself.
Peterís courage and dedication and generosity and love for his fellow humans have left us with a vision, and itís a vision of a finer community, where we all care and take time to show that we do. A greater legacy could not be asked for. Thank you very much, Peter.
Mr. Mitchell: It is my honour to rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to Peter James Greenlaw. It was with great sadness that we learned of Peterís passing on September 20, after a long and courageous battle.
Corporal Greenlaw was born on December 10, 1955 in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, where he lived until 1975 when he joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. With the RCMP he served at various locations across Canada. In 1986, he relocated to Dawson City and after three years transferred to Whitehorse. He gave tirelessly of himself to many volunteer organizations, especially to our youth. His dedication to youth was so evident in the work he did in the drug awareness program and his volunteer coaching in our community.
The Klondike Snowmobile Association was one of the organizations that received the benefits of Peterís time, energy and expertise. It was in the mid-1990s when I first had the privilege of meeting Corporal Greenlaw. I was a member of the City of Whitehorse parks and rec board when Peter came to lobby the city on behalf of KSA about trails. I was impressed at how dedicated he was to the sport, to the organization and to his community. He had a passion for nature and the great outdoors. Pete was the heart and soul of organized snowmobiling in the Yukon and he was also instrumental in developing the Trans Canada Trail in the Yukon.
As he struggled with his health, he never gave up ó always positive, always upbeat, an inspiration to all. Pete lived his life to the fullest, with great compassion for others. He was a great example of a true Yukoner ó one who came for the job and stayed to become an integral part of our Yukon community, a community which is a better place today having benefited from knowing a man like Greenlaw.
He will be greatly missed. Our sincere condolences go out to his family, wife Deb, son Graydon and daughter Sheena. Thank you.
Mr. Jenkins: It is indeed an honour for me to rise and pay tribute to Corporal Peter James Greenlaw. Peter was born and raised in St. Stephen, New Brunswick. He joined the RCMP at 20 years of age and he left home on the adventures of life in the forces, which eventually brought him here to the Yukon. Peter, as I knew him, was a loving husband and a dedicated father, who had family foremost in his thoughts, but he was also an extremely proud member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Peter was a quiet, unassuming individual, always a valued contributor to the task at hand, be it at work, in a community organization or at home. In later years in the force he became known as ďthe drug manĒ, but he was also a very proud volunteer to many organizations. He was a member of and a contributor to the Trans Canada Trail Foundation, the Klondike Snowmobile Association, and the Canadian Council of Snowmobile Organizations. He was also involved with the Crossroads Society, SASSY, FASSY and MAD ó music, art and drama classes from the Wood Street Centre School ó to name but a few.†
Peter also had a love for all sports, specifically basketball and NASCAR. It was during a cold winter in early 1986 that I first met Peter. He loved traffic control on the highways. He and I first met when it was very cold out, but we became friends. Peter and his wife Deb were valuable, contributing members to Dawson during his posting there.
Peter moved to Whitehorse, but then the M Division celebration ó the centennial ó took place. Peter put forward the proposal to recreate the old patrol from Dawson City to Fort McPherson and return. His interest in history and his four years at Dawson fuelled his desire to accomplish this challenge and, in typical Peter Greenlaw fashion, he researched the report of the various trips made over the years between Dawson and Fort McPherson. Most people associate that trip with The Lost Patrol, but that was just one of the sad events. There were many events that took place over the years during which the RCMP travelled this route.
Peter went on and successfully obtained corporate sponsorship for much of the equipment required, including nine snowmobiles from Polaris, among many other contributions. This event went off extremely well, and it ended with a gala ball in the evening at Diamond Tooth Gertieís with red serge everywhere. For this, Dawson will always remember Peter.
It was shortly thereafter that Peter started experiencing health problems with his energy level deteriorating. But he took on the task of ďthe drug manĒ of the M Division drug awareness unit and this job took him completely into education and health units in terms of drug use. Peter worked closely with education ó with school counsellors ó implementing and delivering the STEP and DARE programs, positive choices in the school. Peter also provided me, as Minister of Health and Social Services, with valuable information and advice during this time, for which I am truly thankful.
Peterís influence and impact on youth has been profound, not only in Yukon, but right across Canada. Peter went on in later years to be the recipient of the Commissionerís Award in 2001, for his Trans Canada Trail efforts.
Peterís life was slowly taken from him by a very rare disease. Peter was a great person who left us with his legacy. For this we are all truly thankful and appreciative. Our condolences go out to his wife Deborah, their children and their family.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Speaker: Are there any other tributes?
Introduction of visitors.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
†Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to ask the members of the Legislature to join me in welcoming the Greenlaw family, the commanding officer of M Division, Chief Superintendent Dave Shewchuk, and employees of M Division.
Speaker: Are there any other introductions of visitors?
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
TABLING RETURNS AND DOCUMENTS
†Hon. Mr. Hart: I have for tabling the Government Contract Summary Report by Department (April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005).
Speaker: Are there any other documents for tabling?
The Chair has for tabling the annual report of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, April 1, 2004 to March 31, 2005.
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to direct the Department of Community Services to work collaboratively with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation and the Carcross Area Advisory Planning Committee to enhance public safety in Carcross by creating and implementing a permanent dog control program.
Mr. Hardy: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) small-scale enterprises owned by Yukon people make a significant contribution to the strength and diversity of the Yukon economy;
(2) small business owners face many challenges, including aggressive competition from international corporations, limited access to operating capital, regulatory red tape, rising costs and difficulties finding and keeping staff with suitable skills; and
(3) government has a legitimate role in supporting and encouraging independent, small-scale local business activity, including home-based businesses; and
THAT this House urges the Yukon government to immediately create a small business round table to identify effective strategies that can be adopted by both government and the private sector to encourage the creation and development of independent, Yukon-owned businesses in both urban and rural communities throughout the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Cardiff: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House urges the new minister responsible for the Yukon Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board to do what the previous minister failed to do and get the review of the Workersí Compensation Act back on track so that all stakeholders can start benefiting as soon as possible from this important new legislation; and
THAT this House further urges the new minister to work with the chair and the committee reviewing the legislation to come up with some new, realistic timelines for the completion of the review and make them public.
Mr. Mitchell: †I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that the Government of Yukon has recently passed an order-in-council delaying municipal elections in Dawson until October 19, 2006; and
THAT this House urges the Minister of Community Services to hold an election in Dawson City before March 31, 2006, or resign as minister.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Are there any statements by ministers?
This then brings us to Question Period.
Question re:† Dawson City financial situation
Mr. Cardiff: Yesterday I asked the Minister of Community Services why he hadnít performed the simple task of proclaiming the Dawson Municipal Governance Restoration Act. His answer: ďWeíre working on it.Ē
I asked why he hadnít done the simple paperwork to set a new deadline for a municipal election in Dawson City. His answer again: ďWeíre working on it.Ē
Now weíve learned that an order-in-council was quietly signed, giving the government nearly another full year to hold a municipal election in Dawson. Thatís shameful, Mr. Speaker.
If the minister is working so hard on this file, why has he ignored the key recommendations of his hand-picked supervisor about refinancing Dawsonís debt, holding a public inquiry into what went wrong and calling a municipal election?
Hon. Mr. Hart: As I indicated earlier, we are working on it, we did the process, and an order-in-council was completed and the election was taking place.
We are committed to ensuring that Dawson will have a sound financial base before an election is called.
Mr. Cardiff: Mr. Speaker, he didnít explain why he is ignoring all those recommendations. The minister claims he is doing due diligence on Dawsonís financial situation, but the bottom line is that the town needs financial help and it needs it now. The ministerís dilly-dallying is denying Dawsonís residents the right to govern themselves at a municipal level and itís wasting Yukonersí tax dollars. People are angry, they are frustrated, and they are looking seriously for some way to get their democratic rights back. It would be safe to say that the citizens of Dawson have put more thought and effort into this than the minister has, and I will provide copies of transcripts from the Dawson City forum that show they are working on that.
Since the minister canít even do the basic tasks in a timely manner, will he at least support the efforts of Dawson citizens to stage their own municipal elections?
Hon. Mr. Hart: Maybe the member opposite could check the Blues and have a look at previous situations with regard to Dawson City. The member opposite talks about responsibility to taxpayers; weíre doing that on behalf of the taxpayers. We are looking into the financial situation on behalf of the taxpayers. Does the member opposite wish that I would just hand out a cheque for X number of dollars? Does the member want to pull a number from the sky so we can put it out for the Dawson City? Why not? I donít think so, Mr. Speaker. I think the people of the Yukon require that this government take the appropriate step to ensure that Dawson City gets the assistance required to keep it on its feet and to allow the new mayor and council to operate like a municipality.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister hasnít been doing his job. He didnít proclaim the act. The act gives him the powers to restructure the debt and to help Dawson get back on its feet, but heís not doing that. The Dawson issue has been on the public agenda from the beginning of this governmentís mandate. Thatís three years and counting now, Mr. Speaker. The same minister has been in charge right from the beginning. He didnít hesitate to remove a supervisor and hire another one. He didnít hesitate to fire the town council and appoint a trustee, but when it comes to coughing up some cash to get the town back on its feet with its own municipal government, all he can say is, ďWeíre working on it.Ē We donít see any product. He has all the information, but weíre not getting any product.
I have a challenge for the minister. Will he say right here, right now, exactly when a financial restructuring package will be in place and when the folks in Dawson can go to the polls to elect a new mayor and council?
Hon. Mr. Hart: We are doing our due diligence with regard to the city finances for Dawson City. Weíre working with that; the trustee is working with that; the trustee is working with the committee that has been provided for Dawson City. We are working with that process.
Iíll remind the member opposite that we are having great difficulty trying to clarify exactly what the finances for the city of Dawson are. The recent review of the process by a local accounting firm indicates they are not willing to provide an unqualified response with regard to their audit ó in other words, they donít trust the information theyíre looking at.
In essence, we are waiting for that final review from the accounting firm, to review the process early in the new year. Once we are in possession of that, weíll know where to go forward in providing assistance to Dawson City.
Question re: Health and Social Services ministerís vision
Mr. McRobb: Itís my pleasure to break in the new Health and Social Services minister. In the past three weeks, weíve had to deal with no fewer than three different ministers in charge of the Health and Social Services portfolio. First, the previous minister walked across the floor, because he was very unhappy with the Yukon Party government. Then the Minister of Economic Development was appointed as Acting Health and Social Services minister. Now thereís a new kid on the block, fresh from the back bench.
Yukoners need to know where he stands on critical health issues. Does he support what the former minister said, what the acting minister said, or does he have a third version of all the issues weíll now need to get on the record?
Hon. Mr. Cathers: Thatís probably the most general question Iíve ever heard on the floor of this House. If the Member for Kluane, the opposition Health and Social Services critic, would prefer to narrow his question down to a specific area, Iíd be more than happy to provide an answer.
††††††† Mr. McRobb: Itís sad when the new minister canít even answer a general question, Mr. Speaker. Yukoners expect their Minister of Health and Social Services to have a vision ó something that will reassure them of being cared for, something that will respond to their needs.
††††††† One of the former ministerís standby lines was to say his department would respond to any demonstrated need; however, several important needs were demonstrated and ignored. Then the acting minister said he didnít know anything and was just learning. Until recently, this minister was an avid member of the Reform party and held a slash-and-burn view toward social programs and sought to privatize the public health care system in our country. Exactly what is this ministerís vision for health and social services in our territory?
††††††† Hon. Mr. Cathers: † †Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the Member for Kluane.
††††††† To suggest that I or this government have any agenda other than advancing the interests of health care of all Yukoners and the ability of all Yukoners to access health care in a timely fashion regardless of their financial situation is unbelievable. This government has shown our clear commitment to a publicly funded system. The investments in health care are myriad, from the health access fund, which we are waiting for from the federal government, to the base funding provided to the three northern territories after the work of our Premier and the premiers of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories who walked out on former Prime Minister Chrťtien in national TV, gaining recognition for the first time in Canadian history that per capita funding does not address the interests of our sparsely populated jurisdiction.
††††††† Mr. Speaker, my record, and the record of our government, is very clear in our support for public health care.
Mr. McRobb: Well, thatís not a vision. I have a warning for Yukoners: donít get sick.
As a member of the Reform Party, he believed in striving to make government as non-existent as possible. The Reform Party wanted to eliminate social assistance; it wanted to have private health insurance; it called childcare a waste of money. Reform Party members wanted to divert our health care dollars to military purposes. This regressive party wanted to take us back to a time before social programs were established in this country, somewhere back in the 18th century.
Specifically, what is this ministerís view toward a two-tier health care system? Will he be continuing the Yukon Partyís secret efforts to privatize emergency medical services?
Hon. Mr. Cathers: †This government has been very clear in our support for the Canada Health Act and for a publicly funded system, for one system available to all Yukoners and indeed to all Canadians. I find the memberís fishing trip rather strange and surreal. I would like to assure the member that our vision, as I commented and as was reported yesterday by some of the media, is that we are firmly committed to maintaining the quality of care that is available to Yukoners. We are firmly committed to dealing with the challenges that are facing every single jurisdiction across the country ó that being a shortage of funding, increasing needs, and shortage of personnel who are available. We are committed to not only maintaining that standard but swimming upstream, so to speak, and to enhancing the services available to all Yukoners.
Question re: Land disposition
†Mr. Mitchell: I have some questions for the Premier. Last week a report on how the Government of Yukon allocates land was leaked. It contained some very disturbing facts about how this government is handling this process. One of the main problems identified in the report was massive political interference in the process. In other words, the ministerís office is setting the policy. He is not letting the departments do their work.
Has the Premier spoken to the minister and ordered an end to this interference, or is he content to just let it continue?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again Iíd like to remind the member opposite that that study was put together by Community Services. Iíd like to remind the House and all Yukoners we just got the responsibility 24 months ago for 95 percent of the land management in the Yukon. I compliment Community Services for going ahead. That is a draft. Weíre looking forward to the final study, and this government is committed to addressing that study when we get it.
Mr. Mitchell: Iím astounded. I guess it wouldnít be massive political interference to go in and remove the words ďmassive political interferenceĒ from the draft.
As I suspected, the Premier has done nothing. It would require ethical leadership, something this government is incapable of providing. The lack of response from the Premier has just confirmed for all Yukoners that he sees nothing wrong with the way things are operating now. The Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources can interfere all he wants, and the Premier thinks this is okay. We all remember last year when the minister and the MLA for Lake Laberge told the Yukon Agricultural Association that they could have a piece of land, no application even required.
This is the way this Yukon Party government does business. If you can get to the minister, you get what you want. Why is the Premier content to let this political interference continue?
Hon. Mr. Lang: The member opposite is dead wrong. There is a process. The process has been followed in every instance. We on this side are the ones who commissioned the overview. We understand there are issues out there and weíre addressing those issues.
For the member opposite to throw those accusations across the floor ó heís dead wrong. Thereís no political interference on any level from this side of the House.
Mr. Mitchell: Mr. Speaker, the report done by an independent consultant says there are massive amounts of political interference in the land disposition process. Thatís what the report says. This has to stop. Ethical leadership from the top is required. The Premier canít just look the other way and pretend he doesnít know what is happening. Iím asking him to intervene. Yukoners need to know that their land application is going to be treated fairly. They donít want the minister sitting at his desk, making these decisions. Will the Premier show some leadership and rein in his colleague? The interference has to stop. Is the Premier going to act?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has to make up his mind. Does he want interference, or doesnít he want interference? There is no interference in land from this side. We understand there is an issue. We took a step to hire an independent consultant. Weíve done that. He is reading into the report things that arenít actually factual. We will wait for the final draft, and we will move on that draft. But there is no interference from this side of the House on any land deal in the Yukon.
Question re: Government promises
†Mr. Hardy: We hear a great deal of bluster and ballyhoo from the Premier about how well the Yukonís economy is doing. Itís true that this government is spending more than any other government in Yukon history. Thatís a fact. Itís also true that weíre one of the few jurisdictions in Canada where public spending represents a bigger and bigger share of the gross domestic product. Something else thatís true under this Yukon Party government is that our economy is more dependent than ever on decisions that are made outside the Yukon. When will the Premier start honouring the promise in his throne speech, ďto develop a sustainable economy that is based on the private sector rather than on transfer payments from the Government of CanadaĒ?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I think, first and foremost, what the member opposite fails to recognize is that this government committed, in a first step to dealing with the economy, to provide more stimuli. Weíve done that. What has that accomplished? It has accomplished more optimism. It has accomplished more private sector involvement.
For the member opposite to assert that the gross domestic product is entirely made up of government expenditure is a misrepresentation of whatís going on in this territory. Itís not the case. Under the NDP and under the Liberals, there was an exodus of the population, double-digit unemployment figures, the mining industry had left; there was no forest industry, no activity in oil and gas. There was shrinkage in every sector. Today in the Yukon there is growth in sectors like mining, like forestry, like oil and gas, like the film and sound industry, like the information and technology sector, like tourism, like the arts and cultural community and small business, including new ways and measures for access to risk capital for Yukon small businesses, tax measures helping the corporate community in the Yukon and Yukon citizens. I say thatís a well-rounded approach to building Yukonís economic future.
Mr. Hardy: Well, Mr. Speaker, we have been hearing this rant for the last while. The Premier wants Yukoners to take whatever he says on trust.
Speaker: Order please. We have discussed this before.
Withdrawal of remark
†Mr. Hardy: I withdraw it.
Speaker: Thank you. You have the floor.
Mr. Hardy: The Premier promises a sustainable economy, but he canít even demonstrate that his own spending trajectory is sustainable. As a matter of fact, he said it isnít sustainable. The Premierís throne speech said that rebuilding Yukonís economy was a top priority. What we have instead is an economy that is even more focused on resource extraction and even more dependent on the federal government. No wonder 75 percent of Yukoners are saying theyíve had it with this Yukon Party government, and lack of trust is the biggest reason. Just listen to them.
Can the Premier table evidence of any specific steps his government has taken that have actually helped diversify the economy by promoting the development of other industries, as he promised in his throne speech? Can he do that?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Of course, Mr. Speaker. Letís start with the creation or the re-establishment of the Department of Economic Development that was eradicated under the former Liberal government. Letís talk about removing bad and flawed policies from the Yukon governmentís agenda that chased industry ó the private sector ó out of the territory. Letís talk about our fair share of the national wealth. Is the leader of the official opposition saying that, when the federal government lifts the ceiling on equalization for provinces who receive equalization payments, Yukon and the other territories could be ignored? We only demonstrated to the federal government that they were ignoring the north in the sharing of the national wealth, which by the way, Yukoners contribute to. This is a sound financial approach with a plan and a vision for Yukonís economy that is bearing fruit. The members opposite are the ones who must display an alternative on how to build Yukonís economic future. To date, itís void.
Mr. Hardy: My gosh, Mr. Speaker, do we have to constantly remind the Premier to stop taking credit for things he didnít do? He didnít raise oil and gas prices, he didnít raise mineral prices, but he continues to take accolades as if he did. Now, once again we get the Premierís tired old response: bash the opposition, which he loves to do, then trot out a laundry list of so-called accomplishments to show how well everybody is doing. Itís going to take more than rhetoric to convince the people of this territory to trust this government, and itís going to take more than the same old approaches if we are ever going to see a diversified, sustainable economy.
When will the Premier start asking Yukon people what they want their economy to look like, or does he have the same distrust of their opinion that Yukoners have for this government?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thatís a good one, because the government already asked that question. We all know by the evidence that Yukoners no longer consider the economy as the number one issue in this territory. Thatís a demonstration of what this government has done.
Furthermore, the member talks about prices. Yes, we recognize that prices are rising, commodity-wise, of oil and gas and of base metals and so on, but you have to have a government with complementary policies to avail yourself of the benefit of those increasing prices. Thatís the difference between this Yukon Party government and the members opposite, who had flawed policies and would never avail themselves of the benefit of rising prices and increased investment opportunities. This government has seized the opportunity; thatís why the territory is experiencing growth. The facts speak for themselves.
Question re: Climate change
Mrs. Peter: As delegates to the recent UN conference on climate change in Montreal heard, there is no longer any serious doubt that climate change is real, accelerating and caused by human activity. We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, not increase our dependence on them, like the current Yukon Party government wants us to do by pushing pipelines, coal-bed methane and coal mines.
When will this government embrace the spirit of the Kyoto Protocol and start being part of the solution, rather than part of the problem?
Hon. Mr. Lang: To put the facts on the table ó and those facts shouldnít be ignored, even in here. The fact of the matter is that our dependence on fossil fuels has dropped by 50 percent during our short term in office. Weíve taken the average household, and 94 percent of them are on hydro fuel.
So for any member to stand up here and say that we havenít been doing our job for the last three years ó I do agree we have to do more work and we have an issue with global warming, but the facts speak for themselves.
Weíve gone from 80 percent of our population on hydro to 94 percent. In the last five years, weíve dropped our fossil fuels usage by 50 percent. Weíre working at this. We understand thereís more work to be done, and this government will do just that: go to work.
Mrs. Peter: Mr. Speaker, at the climate change conference, the former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, said itís crazy to play games with our childrenís future by not agreeing to do what manifestly we know will drastically enhance the economy as well as protect the environment. The federal government is giving sizable sums to provinces and territories that agree to help it meet its goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. Why isnít the Yukon government taking advantage of these funds to help it change from the old energy economy to the new energy economy?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, the government is doing exactly that. Letís take, for example, the northern strategy. I asked the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin ó if the member has availed herself of the strategy ó why is the issue of climate change entrenched in that strategy? Why has the government been making representations in this regard all through this mandate? Why are we promoting a natural gas pipeline? To reduce emissions globally. Why are we promoting, attaching or tying in the grid with the possible project up to Pelly Crossing and Selkirk? Well, Mr. Speaker, itís to reduce the fossil fuel consumption for production of electricity. These are all concrete examples of what weíre doing. Couple that with keeping the Energy Solutions Centre alive, EnerGuide programs and energy efficiency audits for homes, which are all reducing energy or consumption of fossil fuels and emissions. And weíre even going further, Mr. Speaker, in working with the federal government on the Kyoto Protocol, on the implementation plan, on dealing with adaptation and mitigation measures. Thatís a pretty good record.
Question re: Environment ministerís vision
Mr. Hardy: Itís all about trust, Mr. Speaker. After that, I think people will really be wondering. A big shock in yesterdayís Cabinet shuffle was the Premierís decision to give himself the Environment portfolio. In all the years Iíve known this Premier, I canít recall him showing one iota of environmental awareness. In fact, his approach to environmental issues has been well summed up as log it, mine it, drill it, drain it, pave it, then protect it. Iíve heard it many times.
In three years under two different ministers, weíve seen the Environment department ignored, demoralized and reduced to a monitoring role while the Premier has been busy chasing industries that have huge negative impacts on the environment.
So my question is: what steps is the Premier planning to take to convince Yukoners, who care deeply about the kind of environment we leave for future generations, that he can be trusted with this important portfolio?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: The first thing is to advise Yukoners to be careful in accepting at face value the member oppositeís assertions. Thatís step one.
Now letís go on to the facts. Itís this government that established the boundaries of Fishing Branch and were able to go through the issues, resolve them and implement the implementation plan for Fishing Branch ó another prime example of our environmental focus and priority.
The same holds true for Tombstone. The creation of Kusawa and Asi Keyi parks, the removal and protection of Lewes Marsh, working on habitat protection areas ó all these are examples of a sound and balanced environmental agenda. What we donít do is implement flawed, political processes like the protected areas strategy.
Mr. Hardy: I would like to remind the Premier that those were all started under a different government.
Now, the Premier would do well to reflect on why 75 percent of Yukoners no longer trust this government ó 75 percent. It comes down to one simple thing ó they donít like what this Yukon Party government has done to democracy for the past three years. It has been a culture of secrecy from the Premierís office on down, an agenda of privatizing private services, intimidation and denial of basic rights to employees and private individuals, MOUs that arenít worth the paper they are printed on, advisory boards and committees ignored and manipulated, favouritism in government contracts ó a government that doesnít even trust its own citizens to exercise their democratic rights.
As a token of good faith, will the Premier do at least one small thing ó will he direct the Minister of Community Services to do whatever is necessary to restore democratically-elected municipal government to the people of Dawson City without any further delay? I think theyíre ready for it up there. Why doesnít he let them have that decision?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: In the first place, I challenge the member opposite to provide Yukoners evidence of privatizing public services in this territory. Therein lies a question of trust, Mr. Speaker. Furthermore, letís look at the record of democracy in this territory under the Yukon Party government. It began with our commitment to formalize our relationship with First Nations. Weíve done that and we will continue to work on improving our government-to-government relationships. It also includes the relationship we have with other jurisdictions, our neighbours to the west in Alaska, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia, Alberta, a much more productive and constructive relationship with the federal government through democratic processes, more contact with the Yukon public. This government has shown clearly, as evidenced through its agenda and the tremendous amount of involvement with communities ó thatís what has created our budgets. Thatís why so many initiatives in budgets and other programs and service delivery reflect what Yukoners have told their government.
When it comes to Dawson City, we have a duty and a responsibility, as does the minister responsible, to ensure that taxpayers are given full value for their expenditure. Thatís why we will get to the bottom of the financial mess that began under other governments, and put in place a municipal government that has the tools to govern the town.
Question re: Dawson City financial situation
Mr. Jenkins: † I have a question for the Minister of Community Services regarding this financial mess Dawson City is in. Some $22 million was spent for a few short years. The forensic audit is the glossy piece of paper, but it really only identified $1.1 to $1.2 million in overexpenditures or misspending.† The major issue is the capital funding agreement. $10.4 million was provided to Dawson, and Dawson was required to contribute $1.16 million. Dawson did not have the money or the legal means to borrow ó that was known to Yukon. The minister approved borrowing over statutory limits. The financial controls attached to the capital funding agreement were ignored by the minister. The minister imposed the project management team over the projects ó the capital projects. Yukon territorial government has the responsibility to allow these capital projects ó
Speaker: Order please. Would the member ask the question, please?
Mr. Jenkins: † Will the minister acknowledge the Government of Yukonís overwhelming role in creating Dawsonís financial mess?
Hon. Mr. Hart: With regard to the finances in Dawson, and with regard to the project, he is well aware ó previously, he has been mayor of that particular municipality. Heís well aware of what has been happening in that community for many years with regard to the situation with previous ministers. I canít be held responsible for what was performed or done by the previous minister. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we are doing our best to ensure that it doesnít happen again, and we are doing our best to ensure that due diligence is being done to assist the municipality of Dawson City.
Mr. Jenkins: If I take that answer to be that the minister now acknowledges the role of previous ministers in creating this financial mess in Dawson City, the minister will have to step up to the plate. Thereís the issue of eliminating the debt. Even if the principal repayments were extended into the future at a zero rate of interest, it would be impossible for Dawson to become a viable community.
Thereís a need for a rec centre and secondary sewage. Will the minister commit to making amends for YTGís tremendous oversights regarding Dawson Cityís financial mess and provide the necessary capital to ensure the community becomes a viable and going concern once again?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I will repeat what Iíve said so many times in the House. We are working in conjunction with the trustee involved with Dawson Cityís finances to ensure they are on a sound financial basis. Once we are in a position to do that, we will address that situation and go forward with an election.
Mr. Jenkins: The financial mess that Dawson is in was created by previous Yukon governments ó that is a fact. The financial mess is there, and it cannot be dealt with without an infusion of capital. Approximately $15 million is needed ó and needed urgently ó to meet the requirements for a sewage treatment plant, to meet the requirements for debt-forgiveness so Dawson can become viable again, and to meet the needs for upgrading a recreation centre.
Will the minister commit to provide the necessary funding to get Dawson viable once again?
Hon. Mr. Hart: I will repeat what I said previously. We are working with the Dawson City trustee to firm up their financial situation. We will do what is required to enable Dawson City to operate as a municipality. Some of the solutions offered by the member opposite may have to be considered, but until we are in a position to review that, we will make those decisions at a later date.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed.
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS
Hon. Mr. Fentie: † Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Houseís indulgence to join me in making welcome the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations, Andy Carvill, and also Chief Joe Linklater of the Vuntut Gwitchin and representatives of the Vuntut Gwitchin government. Please join me in making them welcome.
Notice of government private membersí business
Hon. Mr. Cathers: † †Mr. Speaker, in order to permit the House more time to debate the government business on the Order Paper, the government private members have decided not to call any items for debate on Wednesday, December 14, 2005, thus enabling the House to conclude the sitting on Thursday this week, if the opposition so chooses.
Speaker: We will now proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 61: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 61, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 61, entitled Co-operation in Governance Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 61, entitled Co-operation in Governance Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, the Co-operation in Governance Act ensures that the Yukon forum, its structure and the commitments therein will continue. Mr. Speaker, governments come and go, but this legislation obligates incoming governments ó whichever and whomever they may be ó to follow through with this process, this initiative, this cooperation at a government-to-government level with Yukon First Nation governments.
The Co-operation in Governance Act is meant as a fundamental way to guarantee a new way of doing business in the Yukon. We have come a long way, with 11 of 14 First Nations now self-governing, with final agreements in place. The Yukon forum, as it is set out in the governance act, allows a government-to-government approach to issues of vital importance to all Yukoners.
Allow me to provide a few examples of how weíve been able to advance some key issues and initiatives here in the Yukon. Through the forum, weíve established a working group to deal with the nine-year review with respect to the implementation of land claims and self-government agreements. The Yukon forum allowed us to bring forward to the federal government a Yukon chapter for the northern strategy, and we will now be working on implementing the $40-million fund provided to the territory under that strategy. Weíve also developed a joint position on the northern economic development fund ó an event that marks the first time that we, in this area of economic development, have sat down with First Nation governments at this level and developed this kind of common position for the mutual benefit of all, but in the best interest of the territory and its future.
The evolution of governance in the Yukon is one that is intended to build a better and brighter future for this territory and all its citizens. The spirit and intent of the final agreements and self-government agreements reflect exactly that. The Co-operation in Governance Act is a significant step forward with respect to formalizing our relationship ó the Yukon governmentís relationship, the public governmentís relationship ó with First Nation governments in this territory. As we move forward with things like educational reform, correctional reform, the Childrenís Act review ó all these areas of great significance to the future of the territory ó the governance issue can only be enhanced and improved upon through structures such as the Yukon forum as its force and effect is brought to bear by this particular piece of legislation.
This marks a significant step in the evolution of self-determination here in the Yukon, not only for First Nation governments but also for responsible government.
Mr. Hardy: I have already spoken on this twice and put on record my thoughts in regard to the governance act that is being brought forward, but even in a broader context, the other MOUs, agreements and accords this government has signed over three years. In many cases, also, a lack of follow up has resulted from those.
I have already put on record how concerned I am about the actions of this government and the reaction from First Nation self-governments around the territory in dealing with them. Those are very clear and very concise statements of relationships that have broken down.
This is a premier who really loves to have photo ops with First Nations, signing MOUs, signing accords, making announcements, only to walk away from those signings and not do the hard work that comes after that.
Itís my fundamental belief that First Nations have been mistreated by governments across this country for a long time. There have been many, many broken deals, accords and agreements. Even within the land claim agreements, there are many areas where implementation is not happening at the federal and territorial level. First Nation governments continue to struggle in many fields, to the point where theyíre now looking at taking down responsibilities and bypassing the territorial governmentís role in the delivery of many of the services.
Thereís a reason for that, and itís probably a very justified reason. Itís the breakdown of trust.
Iím not going to talk much longer. We will support this and if we form the next government, we will be completely committed to this. Before we, the NDP, sign any agreement, we will do a reality check with ourselves. If we cannot feel that we can live up to an agreement that weíre signing, an MOU that weíre signing or an accord that weíre signing, we will not sign it because we will not betray First Nations again. We will not do it ó we will not be part of that.
So, weíll do a real check on ourselves. Weíll look deep within ourselves to make sure that any agreement we work with First Nations on will be one that we will completely honour. We have to do that. The time has to end where itís just signing after signing after signing of agreements and not enough work flowing from them, and the raising of expectations only to see disappointment a year or two down the road. We wonít do that. Thatís our pledge today in this House and weíll stand by that. We will support this accord and, in supporting it, we will honour it.
Mr. Mitchell: Iíll be brief today. I spoke to this yesterday and my colleague spoke to it last week. Again, I just want to say it is four words: Co-operation in Governance Act. Itís not a very long title; it can have a very significant effect if itís put in place and honoured. If itís not honoured, then itís just another piece of paper.
We talked yesterday and Iíve put on the record my concerns about this governmentís record of relations with First Nations and MOUs that have been signed but never really fulfilled.
We have the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations and the Chief of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation here today on this occasion. I know both of these gentlemen and have great respect for them. They are here today because they see the importance of what they hope this will mean for all Yukoners, and in particular, Yukon First Nations. I want to assure them today that if we form a Liberal government we will do more than honour the letter of this law. We will honour the spirit of it, because that is the way in which we have to go forward together to make a better future for all of us tomorrow.
With that, we will certainly be supporting the bill.
Mr. Jenkins: That sounded more like an election campaign platform than supporting a bill, Mr. Speaker.
This Co-operation in Governance Act is a very beneficial and worthwhile act. It has my full support and concurrence. The final agreements that a number of First Nations have clearly identify that there is concurrence of jurisdictions in many areas and clearly identify that there has to be a dialogue at the senior levels of the First Nation governments and the Government of Yukon in order to move forward. This Co-operation in Governance Act, this forum, does exactly that. I am very appreciative of the work of the Yukon Party to move forward on this initiative, and I thank all the participants for their involvement. It is a worthwhile bill. It has my complete support.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would just like to make a couple of comments with regard to this Co-operation in Governance Act. I find it quite pleasing to hear the commitments being made here today. I can tell you today from history that not every Yukon territorial government was willing to have discussions with First Nations.
However, the past is nothing but history. This piece of legislation moving forward will ensure consistency. I believe that consistency is very important with regard to working with all the self-governing First Nations.
Again, I would like to state for the record that there were comments made about some who didnít agree with this. Well, thatís another birth-given right. Any government has the right to their own opinions and their own decisions. That holds true for municipal governments, First Nation governments, the federal government and the Yukon government. I am quite sure that every form of government in the Yukon has not agreed 100 percent with what the federal government did in the past or even today. However, thatís their choice. They have a decision to make. The governments are responsible. They are challenged to make those decisions and I support this governance act 100 percent.
Ms. Duncan: I rise to address Bill No. 61, the Co-operation in Governance Act. I would just like to state for the record, as we must ensure, of course, that Hansard, the record of the Legislative Assembly, recognizes and is accurate on all the facts of the matter. In scanning through the Blues and the record of Hansard, I think itís important that, in passing this bill and expressing our support for the Co-operation in Governance Act, we also recognize, as we do at the land claims signing, the work of the governments that have gone before.
In particular, Mr. Speaker, former Chief Pat Van Bibber began exercises, in a complementary sense, at work with the CYFN Grand Chief of the day, and the government leader of the day ó then Premier Piers McDonald ó in strategizing working with First Nations, Council of Yukon First Nations ó how government could work together to give not just ó itís more than a signatory to a land claim agreement; itís giving life and meaning to land claim agreements and how we could cooperate in governance.
Our government carried on that work, including meeting on many, many occasions in a variety of locations with the Chief of the Kwanlin Dun and of course with other Yukon chiefs, leading up to the signing of the memoranda and that fateful March 31 meeting that led to the land claims that have recently been signed. Our government worked with Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief of the day in a cooperation in governance memorandum of understanding that was signed by all members of the caucus and all of the CYFN chiefs at the time.
The current government has carried on this work, and we have before us the culmination of the efforts of all those who have gone before and we have the Co-operation in Governance Act that will set out for future in legislation that we must work with one another and have more than words on paper ó law ó that all governments will live up to in the land claim agreements. We have a piece of legislation that requires our cooperation.
One of the things that struck me and has been particularly insightful for me in the past number of years in the Legislature, Mr. Speaker, is that Canadians can see ó and Yukoners can see ó their Premier and their government, their ministers ó at work on a daily basis on the national news, working with other governments.
If Yukoners throughout the territory can see the Yukon Legislative Assembly at work and we can see our municipal councils in many of the communities, but nowhere do Yukoners get the opportunity to actually see CYFN and First Nation chiefs and the Yukon Legislative Assembly working together. They donít get to see that in any visual context. We see our Premier at the First Ministers Conference, surrounded by the Canadian flags; we see our Health and Social Services minister, on occasion, at health ministers meetings, and we see justice ministers; and as I said, we see our city council on television here in Whitehorse, if we have cable. Yukoners throughout the territory can see their Yukon government working; how often do we get to see all our governments at work together?
I would hope that, in the future, this cooperation in governance will lead to that kind of meeting of Yukon governments, where Yukoners can see their governments at work together. I hope that one day this act will lead to that.
In closing, having shared that thought with the House, I would like to offer my recognition to all the governments that have gone before and the government of the day for bringing this legislation forward. Itís up to all of us, working with our fellow legislators in CYFN and the chiefs and councils throughout the territory to make it work. I would commend the bill to the House.
Speaker: If the Hon. Premier now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Fentie: First, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the government, I would like to extend to the members opposite our appreciation for their support. I think itís clear that there was a tremendous amount of work brought forward to get to this juncture in terms of how do we formalize our relationship and this new era of governance in the territory with respect to the fact that First Nations in the Yukon over the last three decades have achieved a great deal in the area of self-governance and the settlement of their claims through the final agreements.
On many occasions, I have articulated the fact that past governments have recognized that there was this new era of governance coming and grappled with how to deal with this relationship. There is no doubt that observations from those processes have in some instances found their way into what it is we have accomplished here. The significance, however, is that the government of the day, and First Nation governments, along with the Council of Yukon First Nations, have taken a bold step forward. I say that because we have agreed, when it comes to the issue of government-to-government relationship and the formalization of that relationship, to accept a sharing of the burdens in making the decisions we must make on behalf of this territory and its future and all our respective citizens. But in doing so, we share in the benefits and positive results that will accrue from taking this step.
So, I commend Yukon First Nation governments, their leadership, the Council of Yukon First Nations through the Grand Chiefís office and all those people who worked so hard on getting us to this point. I think it is fair to say that the legislation before us is also an example of that cooperative relationship, as this legislation was jointly drafted with Yukon First Nation governments.
This is a positive day for the Yukon. There is much ahead of us. We can reflect on what has been accomplished. The really important issue is what we can do now as we build our future together as governments for this territory.
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. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Mr. Mitchell: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 61 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 61 has passed this House.
Bill No. 64: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 64, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 64, entitled Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 64, entitled Act to Amend the Income Tax Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: As outlined in second reading and general debate, this bill is of a routine nature and its prime purpose is to bring our income tax act into line with the federal Income Tax Act, as a result of changes to Canadaís legislation.
The Yukon and most other jurisdictions often mirror federal tax measures to simplify the process for the taxpayer and for administrative efficiency. Consequently, when Canada amends the federal Income Tax Act, ours must also be amended. The federal government has made changes, and those changes over the past few years are to several areas and several tax measures. These federal government changes are in the areas of income tax brackets, the threshold for medical expenses, claim for dependants and the foreign tax credit for individuals.
Simply put, Mr. Speaker, without the bill, these changes do not flow through to the Yukon Income Tax Act, and without said changes, Yukoners would be paying more income tax. This bill also accommodates a request from the Canada Revenue Agency that the manufacturing and processing profit rate be changed from a tax rate to a tax credit. This change is simply to assist Canada Revenue Agency to better administer the taxes payable on profits that arise as a result of manufacturing and processing activity. This change does not affect taxes payable in any way. The Yukon will continue to have the lowest taxes of any Canadian jurisdiction on profits attributed to manufacturing and processing. Finally, this bill also corrects some minor errors in the current Income Tax Act. These errors have not had any affect on taxpayers and are simply housekeeping in nature.
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. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Cathers: Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Mr. Mitchell: †† Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: † Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 64 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 64 has passed this House.
Bill No. 16: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 16, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 16, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 16, entitled Fourth Appropriation Act, 2004-05, be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Much has been said already in second reading and Committee debate. Iíll be very brief.
This supplementary was required to deal with a couple of issues in both the Department of Justice and the Public Service Commission. The amounts weíre seeking to close out the fiscal year 2004-05 is $104,000 for the Department of Justice. Itís a requirement to pay Workersí Compensation Health and Safety Board for the mine safety program. 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.
Mr. Speaker, this is a closure of the fiscal year 2004-05, and I am very pleased to inform the House that, once again, the government has tabled with the Auditor General a year-end that has received an unqualified audit.
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. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Cathers: † †Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. Hardy: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Agree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Mr. Mitchell: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 16 yea, nil nay.
Speaker: I declare the motion carried.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 16 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 16 has passed this House.
Bill No. 63: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 63, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 63, entitled Act to Amend the Family Violence Prevention Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 63, entitled Act to Amend the Family Violence Prevention Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to just briefly remind this House what the purpose of this act is. The act will raise the fines for second and subsequent offences to $10,000. The maximum penalty may also be upped to two years in jail, or both fine and imprisonment. This change targets the habitual abusers, and we are telling them with this change that, if they continue to abuse, there will be much more serious consequences.
Mr. Speaker, members will also recall that we have added emotional abuse into the definition of family violence. Our government felt we didnít need to wait for a further study, as recommended in the 2002 report on this issue. So, we proceeded now. We feel very strongly that emotional abuse is wrong and is often used as a way of controlling another person, usually to the detriment of that personís well-being. This act also makes a number of other changes, including amendments to improve the procedures to get protection orders and clarify some provisions and eliminate inconsistencies in terminology.
We consulted many individuals and groups in preparing this legislation, including womenís advocacy and interest groups, womenís shelters, First Nations, the RCMP, victim service groups, disability advocacy and interest groups, senior advocacy and interest groups, the Territorial Court and Supreme Court, justices of the peace and other government departments, including the Womenís Directorate and Health and Social Services.
Mr. Mitchell: I will be very brief, and then we can have the question. I didnít have an opportunity to speak to this bill previously, so I would like to take the opportunity today.
This bill is very similar to one that was previously brought forward when we were in government, as a private memberís bill. Family violence in our society is all too prevalent. We have only to open the newspapers and listen to the radio to hear what happens in families and in our communities.
Anything we can do to combat that horrible plague is of great importance. We did have some concerns about consultation on this bill, which my colleague previously expressed, but weíre very supportive of the spirit of what the bill hopes to accomplish, and dealing with emotional abuse is very important because so many abusers start at that level and the stakes just keep getting higher and higher. If we can deal with abuse earlier rather than later, then weíll all be safer and healthier for it.
At this point, I would commend this bill to this House.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I also would like to reiterate our governmentís support. As minister responsible for the Womenís Directorate, I am very pleased to see these amendments come forth and see their due passing. Our government is taking a number of actions to address violence against women and children in our communities. Violence prevention is a very serious mandate of our government. It is a priority, and it is a priority that is expressed through our actions.
Mr. Speaker, without speaking at great length about many of these actions, this particular bill does speak to the broader definition of family violence to allow for emotional abuse, which also includes a number of stronger penalties for convictions of family violence in order to send a very strong message to the offenders.
I have said this on a number of occasions on the floor of this Legislature, and I will continue to reiterate our governmentís stance. Violence against women and children is everyoneís issue and it is incumbent on each and every one of us as legislators to speak about violence in our communities and to take action, and that is exactly what this bill speaks to.
So, thank you again, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to say those words.
Mr. Cardiff: Iíll be brief. I would just like to go on record as saying that we do support the amendments to the Family Violence Prevention Act. We do support the expansion to include emotional abuse and psychological abuse in the definition of ďviolenceĒ with regard to this act. We view it as a positive step forward, and we will be supporting the amendments to the act.
I find it unfortunate, and I would hope that the government would take to heart ó or future governments take it to heart ó our attempt on this side to also expand the definition of ďfamilyĒ and how the act would apply. We would like to broaden it so that it would apply to a broader definition of the ďfamily unitĒ as opposed to one of just those who cohabit or who are in close personal relationships.
I commend the bill. I wish in some ways that we could have amended it to make it better for all people in the Yukon, but thatís a struggle that we will continue with, and we look forward to working toward that day.
Speaker: Does any other member wish to be heard?
Are you prepared for the question?
Some Hon. Members: Division.
Speaker: Division has been called.
Speaker: Mr. Clerk, please poll the House.
Hon. Mr. Fentie: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Cathers: †Agree.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Agree.
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.
Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.
Mr. Rouble: Agree.
Mr. Hassard: Agree.
Mr. McRobb: Disagree.
Mr. Cardiff: Agree.
Mrs. Peter: Agree.
Mr. Mitchell: Agree.
Ms. Duncan: Agree.
Mr. Jenkins: Agree.
Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 14 yea, one nay.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 63 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 63 has passed this House.
Bill No. 57: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 57, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.†
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 57, entitled Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 57, entitled Act to Amend the Small Claims Court Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to just briefly remind this House that this act is being amended in three areas. The first clause deals with increasing the limits for matters heard in Small Claims Court from its current $5,000 to $25,000. This will take into account inflation, new credit realities in Canada, and is consistent with recent changes in B.C. and Alberta, and most recently in Nova Scotia, which has introduced the same amount in their recently tabled amendments.
The second clause allows for modernization of the appeals process to make it similar to appeal processes in other courts. The final clause allows for matters to be moved from Small Claims Court to Supreme Court, if it appears that the $25,000 limit will be exceeded during trial.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 57 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 57 has passed this House.
Bill No. 58: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 58, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 58, entitled Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 58, entitled Act to Amend the Supreme Court Act, be now read now a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to just briefly remind this House what the purpose of this act is. This act provides for the appointment of a Chief Justice of the Yukon Supreme Court and the appointment of other judges. It also sets out the duties, authorities and responsibilities of the Chief Justice. The act also repeals obsolete 1999 amendments to the Supreme Court Act that have been proclaimed.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 58 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 58 has passed this House.
Bill No. 60: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 60, standing in the name of the Hon. Ms. Taylor.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 60, entitled Act to Amend the Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission that Bill No. 60, entitled Act to Amend the Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †As members should be aware, these amendments will allow for full implementation of the recommendations put forth by the independent Judicial Compensation Commission. As members opposite are aware, the Judicial Compensation Commission published a 2004 report detailing a number of recommendations, one of which requires an amendment to the Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act to ensure regulation and process in the determination of benefits.
Our government is committed to implementing this recommendation regarding availability of insurance packages, as well as all other recommendations put forward in the report.
The amendment to the Public Service Group Insurance Benefit Plan Act clarifies that this act and the insurance contracts made under it are available to all the Territorial Court judges, as well as our full-time salaried justice of the peace.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 60 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 60 has passed this House.
Bill No. 62: Third Reading
Clerk: Third reading, Bill No. 62, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I move that Bill No. 62, entitled Act to Amend the Jury Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Justice that Bill No. 62, entitled Act to Amend the Jury Act, be now read a third time and do pass.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to just briefly remind this House what the purpose of this act is. This act will clear up sections of the current act that are difficult to interpret. The amendments allow for revisions that support plain language use and a more coherent organization of the act. Professionals such as judges, court staff and legal counsel, and also the general public, as Jury Act users, will benefit from these amendments.
Motion for third reading of Bill No. 62 agreed to
Speaker: I declare that Bill No. 62 has passed this House.
Hon. Mr. Cathers: 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. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06. The Chair understands that the department under debate is the Department of Tourism and Culture. Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
Bill No. 17 ó Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06 ó continued
Department of Tourism and Culture ó continued
††††††† Chair: The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06. We are currently discussing Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture. We will continue with general debate.
††††††† Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Mr. Chair, I believe we were talking about air access when we last left off. The leader of the third party had asked for an update regarding air access in the territory. I believe he also asked where we were with WestJet and perhaps other air carriers, in terms of discussion with them.
As I was saying the other day, air access is very critical to the growth of the tourism industry in the Yukon. We very much rely upon air access to bring our visitors to the Yukon, and of course it is very important to Yukon citizens to be able to provide accessible and affordable air service to the Yukon and away from the Yukon as well.
I provided a bit of an overview the other day for the members opposite with respect to some of the turbulence that we had with respect to the air service a couple of years ago. I was just looking back in my files. Actually, it was October 2003, and there were certainly a number of events where we had the opportunity to meet with Yukon tourism industry suppliers, who were requesting our assistance in improving air access to key markets ó in particular, our key markets overseas. As a result, we had a whole host of discussions via teleconference calls as well as person-to-person meetings with Air Canada and Air North officials. As a result, we were able to garner a number of meetings between the airline representatives and with the Yukonís travel trade partners in both markets.
As I mentioned, our staff also held a number of meetings and discussions with both airlines serving the Yukon to look at working toward solutions to assist the industry and goals including working toward a better connectivity to our key international markets, and that is exactly what transpired. As a result, Yukon is today able to garner the success of those discussions. Today we are very fortunate to have better connectivity that provides same-day air access to a number of our key overseas markets, including Germany and Japan. That has been very successful to date.
I just wanted to refer to the member oppositeís questions with respect to discussions with other air carriers. I have to say that, while we are always interested in having discussions with other partners, we have to be very critical and mindful of capacity issues. Capacity management is really the key to success in terms of providing continued affordable and accessible air access for the territory.
It really is capacity that our airlines use to gauge that very success. In the Yukon we do have two carriers, and at one time we had an overcapacity of seats in the marketplace and, as a result, both airlines were struggling to make ends meet. I think that there are always going to be capacity issues around air access, but we have to be very mindful that we do not overflow the marketplace with too many seats. So, while we are always willing to discuss opportunities to serve Yukon, we have to be very mindful that we do have two very great air carriers, Air North, Yukonís airline, as well as Air Canada. At the current time, I think that both carriers are garnering a great degree of success in that regard and, at the same time, they are providing us with the connectivity so we are able to grow our tourism markets. Thatís very important to note as well.
As I was mentioning the other day, Condor Airlines, out of Frankfurt, Germany, recently were able to announce additional flights for next yearís season, 2006, that will effectively extend our summer travel season from May 9 to October 3 and, of course, we are incredibly fortunate and we are certainly very grateful for the service they do provide. It is interesting to note that, in looking at the history of European charters in the Yukon ó I just looked back to 1999 and, interestingly enough, when we had three air carriers flying out of Germany, there were roughly 2,500 passengers in 1999, according to our statistics. Today, when you look at just the last season, 2005, with one carrier, that number has almost doubled ó actually, I think it was just shy of 4,400, and that didnít include Yukoners as well as crew.
So it does show that we certainly have been able to attract many Europeans to come to the Yukon during the summer months, and these efforts are certainly resulting in increased seats aboard Condor Airlines. We did have some very interesting discussions with Condor as well as Air Canada Germany. As I believe I may have mentioned, for the very first time, Tourism Yukon and Air Canada Germany will be participating with a number of German tour operators in a five-week promotional print campaign focusing on winter travel in the Yukon. That is actually taking effect right as we speak. In fact, I believe weíre right in the middle of the campaign.
I should also say that during that meeting it was also discussed that there would be a familiarization tour taking place in 2006 for Canada specialist travel agents, and that would be conducted between Condor and CTC Germany. In effect, youíll see a number of Canada specialists travelling to the Yukon to visit the Yukon with CTC representation, and we certainly will be assisting CTC and Condor in this regard.
At the same time, Air Canada Germany also offered to provide transportation in support of an executive familiarization tour aimed at bringing top travel trade partners and Yukon suppliers together on developing winter product and market initiatives here in the territory. That actually recently took place. I did have the opportunity to meet with them while they were here about a week ago. There were representatives from several of the major travel trade partners over in Europe. It was very successful. They went to a number of different communities, got to witness for themselves first-hand the kind of product that we do have on the ground, and they also had an opportunity to have exchange and discussions about the kind of product that they are looking for more of.
That was a very exciting tour, and it was very much welcomed by a number of our Yukon suppliers who had the opportunity to meet and showcase their products.
We also had the opportunity to meet with a major tourism wholesaler, Thomas Cook in Germany, to discuss opportunities for Yukon as a choice destination for winter travel. A number of other major European wholesalers also feature tourism products here in the territory, but Thomas Cook, for the very first time, is also offering Yukon winter packages in their information brochures. That is very exciting, because Thomas Cook certainly has a wide-reaching network across the world. We are very pleased that they have agreed to showcase our winter product. They were one of the major operators who were just recently here who took part in the familiarization tour, and they would like to increase those offerings in years to come.
Just talking about winter tourism, we were also able to confirm the dates for the 2006 Fulda challenge ó an event for which we have received incredible international media coverage, not to mention $1-million worth of local spending in our communities each and every year. The new route for the upcoming challenge ó I believe it is commencing the end of January, to February 7 ó will actually begin in Whitehorse and continue along the Robert Campbell Highway to communities such as Watson Lake, Faro, Carmacks, and so forth.
It will wind up in Dawson City, so Iím very pleased to confirm that the 2006 challenge will be an all-Yukon course, covering a number of communities. Weíre very pleased to be able to provide funding in this regard to promote the territory as an international destination of choice via the Fulda Extreme Winter Challenge.
I just wanted to speak about other promotions we have with respect to air access. As I mentioned earlier, I believe, to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, we have been working with organizations such as the Yukon Quest and Air Canada, and we were able to garner the three-minute video production that will be showcased on all Air Canadaís flights with duration of an hour and a half or more in North America.
It is a tremendous opportunity for the Quest to receive international recognition. We are also working with Air North on our gateway cities marketing campaign, a campaign to which we have committed $200,000 in this yearís budget. Again, we target residents in our gateway cities of Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary as potential visitors to the Yukon.
This program has been very successful over the years. It has stimulated over a million dollars in direct visitor spending each year for the last two years. We are very hopeful that, by the time this fiscal year is over and done with, spending will exceed this dollar figure.
What is really exciting about this initiative is that we are able to garner partnerships with a number of very innovative entities this year. We incorporated partnerships with Air North, as I mentioned earlier, as well as Columbia, Sorel and Giant Bicycles.† We were also able to include within our marketing campaign broadcast media with a number of radio stations that had the opportunity to actually come to the Yukon and take part in a number of summer-related outdoor activities. As such, they are able to be champions for the Yukon. We were able to garner another partnership with them this year with respect to providing recognition to their radio market and, in turn, also offering a number of package tours with Yukon operators.
That pretty much sums up my remarks surrounding air access in the territory.
Mr. Mitchell: I thank the minister for that very, very thorough answer. The minister answered a number of questions that I had not yet asked but was contemplating, and even a number of questions that I probably wouldnít have thought to ask. So, I appreciate the thoroughness of the answer.
I have a series of questions regarding museums. Perhaps Iíll ask several of them together so that we can be efficient in asking and answering questions.
There was an announcement on October 24, 2005 ó a news release from the Yukon government ó where the minister announced new capital funding for the expansion of MacBride Museum. That was $500,000 in capital funding that would be used to enhance existing infrastructure for exhibits.
I am curious about the progress of that funding, because I understand from my conversations with the chair and executive director of that museum that it is quite critical and time sensitive, in fact, and that they actually receive the funding and know they are receiving the funding, because they have a project in mind that requires joint funding from the Government of Canada. I believe they have applied for some $300,000 in funding under the cultural spaces Canada program. Then they anticipate that the balance of the funding will come from their building fund and other funding that they have in hand.
Iíd like the minister to be able to report what the progress is. I donít believe that funding has commenced, but when will it commence ó I didnít see it in this supplementary budget ó or will the minister be looking at reallocating funding from the previous 2005-06 budget?
On the same topic, there was a museums strategy passed by Cabinet. My understanding is that, as of last year, museums funding in general is somewhat less than it was in 2002 and that the funding in 2002 was for seven museums, and now four more museums have been added to the pool so there are now 11 museums, rather than seven, that have to share this money. I guess the question becomes whether or not the minister anticipates increasing the amount of funding going to museums.
Iíd also like to point out the importance of the expansion that MacBride Museum is hoping to undertake. Right now, I believe, MacBride and the museum in Dawson have collections that comprise approximately 40 percent of the total Yukon artifacts between the two. So 80 percent of all the artifacts that are stored and catalogued in Yukon museums are in the collections of those two museums.
I understand that close to 95 percent of the collection under the control of the MacBride Museum is currently in storage in MacRae and that, due to the nature of some of those artifacts, the museum is forced to pay not only for secure storage but also heated storage, because the extreme variances of temperature and humidity can affect the collection. Itís costing the museum some $20,000 to $24,000 per year for the storage of important pieces of historical interest to Yukon.
†This anticipated expansion will, over the long term, save a bunch of that expense by having the collection return home, as well as making more of it available on a regular basis to Yukoners, so they can see the exhibits and learn more of our history.
Again, getting to the MacBride Museum ó Iíd like to ask the minister ó the government currently, I believe, pays the cost of students, for example, who visit the Yukon Wildlife Preserve ó so the cost of that, the cost of the transportation and the cost of the visit is covered by the Government of Yukon ó but the cost of student visits to MacBride Museum is not covered. So individual schools have to take out of their own budgets the amount for the cost of the bus thatís required each time they transport students, as well as the other costs involved. Iím wondering if the minister might perhaps look at changing that policy so that we can encourage the schools to make even more use of the excellent museum facilities.
I know this minister not only has a strong interest in tourism but, from many conversations in the past and many statements she has made in this House, I know she has a very strong interest in education. So, Iím hoping that thatís something that this minister might be supportive of.
Now, again, on this issue of museums ó Iím wondering if there might be more direct funding support in the way of core support for the museums. For museum exhibits that are being built, for example, they apply for CDF grant funding and then have to compete on that with other worthy projects, and it might perhaps be a better scenario and a better use of the taxpayersí money to fund this type of work directly and allow the CDF funds to be available to other applicants.
Again, Iíll move on from that and ask more questions having to do with tourism while Iím here.
†Iím wondering also if the minister can give me a bit of an update on the brand strategy ó or perhaps we should call it a rebrand strategy, because just in my time in the north, I know that weíve gone from looking at the brand of the Yukon being very associated with the gold rush and the gold miner.† The licence plate had the goldpanner on it. I know that then awhile later, under a previous government, there was a rebranding, so to speak, to ďthe magic and the mystery.Ē In fact, I think that this ministerís former government, the Yukon Party government, was quite concerned about that at the time because they were quite attached to the goldpanner and that particular branding. So we went on to ďthe magic and the mystery.Ē Then we moved from there to ďCanadaís true north.Ē All these are brands, you might say, or themes that certainly are appropriate to the Yukon, and they all speak to different aspects of Yukon, but from my past experience in other careers, in business careers and in the private sector, I know one of the downsides of changing your brand on a frequent basis is that you can land up in a bit of an identity crisis. When a brand as famous as Coca-Cola decided to talk about ďthe new CokeĒ, they pretty soon discovered that they were hurting their own identity and their own brand by doing that. So I wonder if the minister can provide some reassurance that in looking at rebranding ó or a branding strategy ó we wonít end up confusing the travelling public as to who we are, what we are and where we are?
Iíll also ask the minister at this point, when sheís speaking to some of the questions I asked about MacBride Museum and some of the other museums, if she could just give me an overview of the museum strategy update.
With that, I think Iíve put a little bit on the ministerís plate, so Iíll let her respond.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I thank the member opposite for a number of very good questions. Where to start? There are so many different areas, but I will speak to each and every one of them.
The member opposite referred to the MacBride Museum and the proposed expansion. This is a really good-news story, because MacBride Museum has identified this particular expansion ó their needs ó in three separate planning studies dating back to 1980. It was this Yukon Party government that recognized this need and identified this expansion as a priority, both to better showcase the artifacts that are currently in storage and to complement waterfront development taking place in the City of Whitehorse.
We were very pleased to assist MacBride Museum, and weíve very pleased to be able to work with MacBride Museum, through the Department of Tourism and Culture, in realizing this dream. It will result in approximately 3,000 square feet of new space. Thatís quite significant. What comes to mind here is that it will be used to create a number of permanent displays that illustrate the MacBride Museumís core mandate to tell the †history of Whitehorse and Yukon; itíll house a number of archived photo collections. As the member opposite mentioned, the MacBride Museum will be able to remove many of those artifacts currently sitting in storage ó and which have been sitting in storage for many years ó and showcase them for the rest of the Yukon and the world in public.
In fact, I would just refer to an example of the late 19th century: Chandler & Price printing press. This press once stood in the yard of the museum but underwent a major restoration at the hands of the Canadian Conservation Institute in 1994. It has had to remain in storage, however, because the museum hasnít had the ability to display this example of early Yukon newspaper printing history.
Again, we are very pleased to provide $500,000 by way of a funding commitment toward this really important initiative. As the member opposite is fully aware, we made an announcement about this ó I believe it was the end of October ó to the MacBride Museum Board of Directors, who were very appreciative of the assistance. We were very thrilled to be able to rise to the challenge and assist the museum in this regard.
MacBride Museum has done a very good job. It is certainly a premier museum and attraction, as are all our attractions in the territory. The museum has worked very hard over the years to raise dollars from Yukoners at large. They have increased their programming. They have also increased their ability to provide a number of different exhibits and programs. Certainly, it is not hard to believe that they are in much need of an expansion of that particular initiative.
The museum has approached the federal government, the Department of Canadian Heritage ó I believe itís the cultural spaces program ó for funding toward this project, so that they are able to leverage dollars from both the territories, so both of them will be able to leverage each other.
I am not speaking for MacBride Museum, but I understand that MacBride Museum ó I think theyíre expecting to hear about the federal funding very shortly. I understand that they are requesting $250,000 from the cultural spaces program. Add our $500,000 plus the $250,000. I understand that MacBride is also putting forward their own money. It will be a very substantial renovation ó a very substantial extension ó to the museum, and one that we are very pleased to be able to support.
In terms of museums funding, the member opposite is quite correct in that we did provide ó actually, we increased the eligibility of a number of institutions to become recipients of the museumís funding program. The museum community made a request soon after we were elected. That request was to provide more flexibility in funding being made available to museums so that† each of our museums would have the ability to make their own decisions about what they wished to do with the funding made available. If they wanted to spend more money on their gift shop or put more money toward staff or more money toward other programming, that is under their purview. We certainly respect that.
They certainly do a very good job in being able to not only protect but to preserve and promote Yukon heritage, and so we certainly have a lot of faith and I give accolades to each of them for the work that they do, day in and day out on behalf of Yukoners. As a result of that review of the museums funding program, museums such as MacBride Museum and Dawson City Museum and Historical Society, as well, they at one time were recipients of, I think, $24,000 or $25,000 ó they are now recipients of $80,000. That is a substantial increase, but more importantly, it provides them with the ability to show flexibility in how they chose to spend those dollars. As a result, four other museums were added to the museums funding program, including the Northern Lights Centre in Watson Lake, the Binet House Interpretive Centre in Mayo, the Campbell Region Interpretive Centre in Faro, as well as ó Iíll think of the other one here, but we were very pleased to provide monies to four additional institutions.
So, to say that we arenít, I guess, living up to our commitment to address the needs of our museums and cultural institutions, I think that would be incorrect.
In addition to that ó as the member opposite alluded to, and I thank him for reminding me of that ó the community development fund ó I know that last tally was about a year ago, and I know that dollars have risen. Museums in the territory, as well as our cultural centres, have received well over $500,000 in capital funding to either result in artifacts or exhibits assistance as well as expansions and improvements to our existing museums.
In addition, I should say the community development fund is a very important fund to our museums community. I know that museums are effectively very, very important pieces of infrastructure within each of our communities. They certainly speak to the pride that we have in our heritage and our history in the territory. The community development fund has been able to result in a number of great initiatives over the last three years.
In addition, we have also provided funding through the Department of Education for a new heritage training fund. That was also at the direct request of the museum community. We have also come up with a new funding program for First Nation cultural heritage centres in the territory. In fact, that program is a total of $220,000 to support our existing centres in Dawson City, Teslin, Pelly Crossing and Carmacks. In addition to that, we have also hired a First Nation heritage officer ó that was last year ó to provide technical and hands-on assistance to Yukon First Nations as well.
So again, those are all very new initiatives that our government has taken. There are many more, but those are some of the things that come to mind. I think that this may have been presented to the member opposite. Perhaps it was sent over to the Member for Porter Creek South. It was a breakdown of museums assistance program, $473,000 in operation and maintenance. On the capital side, we have $140,000. For exhibits, we have $100,000. Conservation and security ó $10,000. As I mentioned earlier, First Nations cultural centres ó $220,000. All told, thatís about $943,000. That does not encompass new investments through a community development fund or heritage training fund and so forth.
I just wanted to make that clear for the member opposite.
I seem to recall that the member opposite raised a question about the Wildlife Preserve and students incorporating tours ó Iím not exactly sure what the component is that is currently being offered. As I understand it, the member opposite was saying the Government of Yukon is paying for it. I assume that is being done through the Department of Education. Iím not sure what the curriculum is and what they are actually subscribing to, if it fits within their core curriculum or if itís science-related ó Iím not too sure. But certainly we can endeavour to provide more information via the Department of Education with respect to that particular program and what they have used it for, and we can take a look at that.
The member opposite also referred to an update of the Yukon branding strategy. I think Iíve stated on the floor of the Legislature that this initiative has been deemed a top priority among our senior marketing committee for the Government of Yukon to pursue. The department, in consultation with our senior marketing committee, awarded the contract to Zero Gravity of Calgary, Alberta, in partnership with three Yukon contractors as a result of a public tender process.
The development of the brand strategy is currently underway right now and should be completed sometime in early 2006. I know that, to date, there has been an overwhelming response. I think I mentioned before that over 3,100 individuals responded to a number of points of contact ó whether via telephone, on-line, within kiosks or in-person consultations. Again, that is inclusive of direct contact with Yukon residents, residents in industry, as well as visitors and industry at whole, as well as individuals contacting us ó so, Yukon inquiries.†
We have also reached out to potential travellers from North America and overseas. From all accounts, the response of over 3,000 people to the inquiries is significant, and weíre pleased, thrilled and excited about this process.
The member opposite did refer to the magic and the mystery, and I certainly remember that, having worked at Expo í86 in Vancouver. That was a theme then. According to my department officials ó and they certainly know much more about branding than I could know ó that was not effectively a brand; rather, it was a logo. So what the Yukon is embarking upon is the development of a Yukon tourism brand strategy. It will incorporate logos and tag lines, but in effect, it will hopefully capture Yukonersí sentiments on how they feel about the Yukon and what makes us proud of the Yukon. Also of equal importance is what the visitors think of the Yukon and what motivates them to pick up the phone or write us to obtain that vacation planner and come to the Yukon to experience their vacation destination, their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit the Yukon.
We are thrilled to be able to work with the senior marketing committee, and we look forward to the final product, as Iím sure all members do.
Last but not least was the status of the museums strategy. Iíll be short and quick, but I could go on more, and Iím sure I will. The member opposite is probably very familiar with that, but this has been an ongoing process for some time. A significant amount of consultation that has taken place with our heritage community. A museums advisory committee, comprised of First Nations cultural centres, museums, the Yukon Heritage Resources Board ó which I believe was involved as an observer ó and the Yukon Historical and Museums Association was also very much involved.
The museum was sent to the Heritage Resources Board, which reviewed the draft strategy that was presented to them. They made some comments and it did go back to the department, and those revisions were made. As such, we have pretty much completed the final strategy. Copies of the strategy should be in the mail in the next couple of days.
Mr. Mitchell: I thank the minister for another thorough answer. I have just a few more things and perhaps we can move through and wrap it up.
While that answer was very thorough, I fear we got into a little bit of a circular discussion regarding the $500,000 announcement that was made for MacBride Museum in late October. In my question, I reminded the minister of the announcement and asked when the money was flowing. In the answer, the minister told me there had been an announcement made in late October, but the question that was raised to me by MacBride Museum is that itís their understanding that the $300,000 worth of money theyíve applied for from cultural spaces Canada program requires certainty of the half-million dollars from the Government of Yukon.
I just want to get a little clarification from the minister on that as to when we would have that certainty.
I know that this government likes to announce the same money on multiple occasions and perhaps make announcements of programs that will be coming; then we get the budget and another announcement when the money flows. So I guess Iím looking for some part of those second two. Weíve seen the announcement of money that will be spent, and Iím wondering if we can get an update on when the money will flow. I will allow the minister to answer that when she next responds.
In the meantime, since the minister mentioned Expo í86, and that was actually part of another question I was going to ask, I met recently with the chair or the president of the Canada Games Host Society and got a good update on how things are progressing there. Of course, the games are something thatís quite exciting to all Yukoners. It is a first for them to be held north of 60. It certainly involves cooperation among many levels of government, as well as former governments.
Now, also having attended Expo í86, although I canít claim to have worked at it as the minister did, I know that really made a change in how the City of Vancouver is perceived. It had a tremendous effect moving forward tourism for Vancouver and for British Columbia, and for how that city and province were seen around the world. These games have the potential to do that for us.
Iím hoping the minister can indicate what discussions have been held, or what plans are in place, moving beyond the two weeks when the games will occur, to maximize the long-term benefits on tourism from the games. So, if the minister can update me on that, that would be good as well.
Finally, I canít resist asking the minister if she would like to respond to comments made by her former colleague ó not the nature of the wording used in the comments, which I think she has already responded to under a different portfolio but, rather, the assertion that tourism has been down over the past seven or eight years. Her former colleague, the Member for Klondike, indicated that tourism was down, not up and, in fact, was affecting values of hotels and other such properties.
Iím wondering if the minister would like to provide a response to those comments about tourism.
As well, I would ask the minister ó and Iíll leave it after this ó if she could provide an update on the list of money spent from the tourism cooperative marketing fund, the arts fund, and the cultural industry training trust fund, and finally, give us an update on future plans for the Film Commission. I agree with the minister; it is a part of her portfolio that can help lead to future economic development that is not as dependent on Outside forces and market forces, like some of our other economic development projects.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †In terms of making good-news announcements, I guess I take every opportunity and great pride in making announcements about good news ó some of the very great initiatives where our government has certainly taken it upon ourselves to work with industry and to realize some of these long-standing matters, one of which is MacBride Museum.
As I pointed out, it has been a priority for MacBride Museum over the last 20 years, and it is our government who is committed to providing a half-million dollars. We are working with MacBride Museum. Our press conference and our announcement at the end of October certainly were indicative of our commitment to providing this funding. We have made that known on a number of occasions. I know that they are certainly using that as their ability to be able to leverage the funding they are currently working to get from the federal government through the cultural spaces Canada program.
So certainly we are committed to providing those dollars, and they will soon be forthcoming regardless of what may happen on the federal front. However, we wanted them to use those dollars to leverage additional dollars from the federal government to make it a perfect partnership in order to realize that project in its full fruition. Again, that is my personal commitment ó it is our governmentís commitment to provide and make readily available that funding.
I think the next area was the Canada Winter Games. For the Canada Winter Games, as the member opposite should be aware, within the supplementary we have a million dollars ó the first million of our $2-million commitment toward a national marketing campaign that will be taking place very soon. We have partnered with our two northern territories ó Nunavut as well as Northwest Territories ó and we are also working with the federal government to realize a much larger national marketing campaign. We are very proud of this initiative and just the opportunity to highlight the coming of the age of the north, and the north hosting the south through the very hosting of the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
We certainly are excited about this campaign. It will be a very large campaign and it will cover all corners of the country. We very much will be counting on the converge through the media coverage during the games, before the games, after the games, but as well as converged through the Canada Winter Games national marketing initiative that will result in an increased number of visitors coming to the Yukon because of the very exposure that Yukon will receive as a result of this particular campaign.
That will not only focus on the Canada Winter Games, but as I mentioned, it will cover a number of assets, all of which will focus on tourism and the significant development that has been taking place throughout the north, including the settlement of land claims and devolution. As the chair of the host society has mentioned on a number of occasions, the north is coming of age.
I am very confident that ó similar to Expo í86 where Yukon was able to benefit from the years after Expo, not just the year after ó Yukon will also recognize many benefits as a result of the Canada Winter Games, not only as a great place to visit but also a good place to do business and an incredible place to live and raise our families.
We will be looking forward to the results of that campaign and building upon those initiatives.
I think the member opposite referred to the Member for Klondikeís comments. Government is very proud of the investments we have made in the areas of tourism, marketing and culture over the last three years. Since elected, our government has worked very closely with industry to dedicate resources in areas that have been identified as priorities ó investments such as media relations, Web site enhancement and familiarization tours to the Yukon.
We have also created the tourism cooperative marketing fund at $500,000, of which $150,000 is distributed by the Tourism Industry Association of Yukon for assistance of individuals to travel to trade shows and to endorsed areas where TIA Yukon is committed. As a result of that fund, we have been able to leverage an additional number of dollars because we match every dollar put forth by industry. So, the $500,000 allotment is effectively $1-million worth of marketing dollars available not only to the private sector but to First Nations, municipalities and non-government organizations.
We are very proud to be able to promote this fund. It is a fund that has received a lot of accolades from industry members, encouraging us to keep the fund going, saying that it is a success and has been able to promote many Yukon businesses and regions to potential national and international visitors.
We have also dedicated $350,000 of new funding to the scenic drives campaign. This is another initiative that has been developed to target rubber-tire traffic in the territory. That is not just toward marketing cooperative initiatives with our travel trade partners but also interpretive signage along our major corridors.
This year, I believe $200,000 was made available in interpretive signage to upgrade and provide new signage in areas of importance along the Alaska Highway, as well as the Klondike Highway. We also continue to provide investments in Tourism North, our joint Yukon-Alaska program, being able to leverage our dollars and partner with the State of Alaska, through the Alaska Travel Industry Association, to promote the Alaska Highway and so forth in order to promote both of our destinations for the price of one.
We have also incorporated new investments in product development, again resources that are available to our communities at large with respect to training initiatives, pricing and packaging of products, et cetera. Our officer has made herself very readily available to many of our communities and works very closely with organizations, including the Klondike Visitors Association.
The $200,000 toward the development of the Yukon tourism brand strategy, as I mentioned earlier, is the number one priority that was identified by our senior marketing committee, which we are making happen right now.
We have also increased our resources to the Yukon Convention Bureau to support sports tourism initiatives. Again, that is another way that we can tap into a market that we havenít necessarily been aggressive with over the last number of years. So we are working with the Convention Bureau to promote particular events, such as a number of pre-national test events that will be occurring in the Yukon, so putting together those packages and bids for those particular events.
So we have been very busy over the last three years. Again, as I mentioned earlier, there is the $200,000 to support the gateway cities marketing program, the stay-another-day program, and so on.
For the member oppositeís information, the Department of Tourism in total provides about $3 million in contribution funding alone to a number of organizations, as well as cooperative marketing partnerships. This includes product development, event support and community support as well. It is very significant. Thatís not to mention all the other funding we provide. We provide just under $4 million in grants and contributions funding through the development of visual, literary or performing arts, or for documentary heritage resources for museums, cultural centres and so on. We are working on a number of fronts.
We work with the rest of the country through the Canadian Tourism Commission. It would be really wonderful also to have the opportunity to meet with the federal government. Unfortunately, as ministers responsible for tourism, we have not had the opportunity to meet with the federal minister for well over two years. Itís because of elections or changes of ministers. It is very unfortunate, because tourism is so critical to the economy of the Yukon and is a very major economic generator for the country.
I am hopeful that when we do see a new minister in place in the new year, we will have a meeting struck to address some of these issues that are pressing for the future of the territory and the future of tourism in our country, including the western hemisphere travel initiative.
Compared to many other markets such as Ontario, Quebec, even British Columbia and many other jurisdictions, including the United States, we are faring relatively well. We will continue to garner very close working relationships with industry and continue to address some of these areas.
Mr. Mitchell: †† I had a few more questions I was anticipating asking, but in the interest of time management, I know my colleague, the Member for Klondike, has some questions he would like to ask, so Iíll yield.
Mr. Jenkins: † I would like to zero in on a couple of areas. The minister indicated previously that border crossings were up and the extrapolation was that tourism was up across the Yukon. That is not an accurate reflection of what has transpired.
Is there another way of producing statistics that accurately reflect what is transpiring in the visitor industry across the Yukon? Because weíve seen a tremendous downturn in rubber-tire traffic. Weíve seen a marginal increase in some free and independent travel, FIT traffic. Weíve seen a marginal increase in some fly-drive packages. But overall, motorcoach traffic is down. It is being consolidated under one major carrier, and for all apparent reasons, it looks like there is going to be a future downturn in the next few years. How does the department track the statistics and is there a better method than just border crossings? Because we all know the major increase was the people originating out of Skagway and staying in the Yukon for a couple of hours. That appears to be the duration of their time in the Yukon. Previously the department also extrapolated the number of dollars that each visitor spent per day, and it went from around $60 to $80, which is on the low side. Where is that figure at now, Mr. Chair?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I would like to thank the Member for Klondike for his questions.
Mr. Chair, we track our statistics a number of ways. First of all, through our land border-crossing statistics, with which we monitor visitation through our various ports of entry. We also track statistics through each of our visitor information centres on a daily basis from May 1 to September 30, so throughout our operating season.
I think I relayed to the member opposite or one of the members opposite a day or two ago that, in total, on both occasions, whether weíre looking at the border-crossing statistics or the visitor information centre statistics, we are reporting an increase. According to our visitor information centre statistics, we are reporting an increase of 2.8 percent, whereas through the land border-crossing statistics, weíre up about 4.13 percent. Statistics are very, very complex. Iím sure the Member for Klondike knows very well it is a very complex matter. How we garner these statistics, of course, is of utmost importance to any operating government, especially in terms of tracking where our visitors are coming from and how often theyíre coming.
The member opposite may be aware that, last year, we undertook a very comprehensive visitor exit survey in the Yukon, on which we spent just over $400,000. We conduct these surveys every five years, the last one being in 1999. We do receive regional exit surveys. They are being produced as we speak and should be ready fairly shortly. The 2004 visitor exit survey tracked how much was spent by visitors to the Yukon in 2004. In fact, it showed an increase in visitor spending by 12 percent. It said that, on average, each of the visitors to the Yukon in 2004 spent approximately $301 while in the territory. This is an increase of three percent over 1999 per visitor, adjusted for inflation. This is marked in the 2004 preliminary results that were published earlier this year. I would be happy to provide that to the member opposite.
Absolutely, we are always looking for better ways of tracking our visitors. We continue to work with industry and it continues to be a very interesting topic of discussion at each of the meetings that we have, to come up with creative ways to track our visitorsí spending and to be able to track visitation to the territory.
Mr. Jenkins: Previously, the department came up with a statistic on how much each visitor spent in the Yukon per day. The statistic that Iím currently receiving is $301 for the total stay, it would appear ó per couple, or per something; it doesnít appear to have a qualifier. It used to run around $80 a day per person. Where are we at now if we were to index that figure? The last time I saw that figure was in the early 1990s, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †I am not familiar with the tracking system that the member opposite is referring to. In terms of visitor exit surveys, which we do conduct every five years, the most recent one taken in 2004 ó again, I would be happy to present the member opposite with a copy of the preliminary results. If you look in here, there is a chart that describes the average expenditure per person per day. It shows the difference between 1999 and 2004. For United States residents, it is down by $6, so down to $76 per person. For Canada, itís $90, which is up $11 from 1999. ďOtherĒ, which would be our international visitors, shows $59, which is down $18 from 1999. Again, that is according to the chart that is encapsulated in the preliminary results of the Yukon visitor exit survey for 2004.
Mr. Jenkins: That jives perfectly with the information that was made available to me. It looks like if we index it and compare it with the early 1990s, we are on a downward slide in a number of areas. The number of visitors coming to the Yukon and crossing the borders is increasing, but a lot of it is not resulting in any major expenditures. The last number I recall was about $80 per day per person for U.S. visitors.
Overall, it looks like weíre on a collision course with a problem in a very short period of years, given that all our eggs appear to be in the basket of one major wholesaler. It is doing a very good job in its integrated companies or groups of companies to move tremendous volumes of people through the Yukon.
That said, what is going to happen to everyone else in the equation, given that the rubber-tire traffic is down, given that the FIT traffic is static, or up marginally, and given that rural Yukon really hasnít had a good year in the visitor industry since 1998? That was the last year where there was a significant increase and it translated into profitable businesses and dollars in the pockets of Yukoners. Since that time, it has been a downhill slide. What is the department proposing?
I know there are many, many initiatives, but we obviously need to come up with a game plan that is going to serve Yukon well, or just turn it over to the one major operator, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: †Tourism is a very important economic generator. Currently it stands as the number one economic generator in the territory. While we are experiencing some trends in certain marketplaces ó the United States, for example ó and when we look at whether itís the price of gas, or the exchange rate, or the impact of the proposed passport regulations, there can be a whole host of entities attributed to that downturn that weíve seen in the last couple of years. But I have to say, again, that we rely on a number of markets, not just one particular wholesaler, as the member opposite refers to.
Through product development through the Tourism department, we are working very hard with industry, including the Klondike Visitors Association within the Klondike region, to come up with innovative areas in which to market the Yukon.
We are concentrating on a number of niche markets, which is part and parcel of our product development branch, including nature wellness products, motorcycle tourism and so forth.
As I mentioned earlier, we have, for the first time ever, a couple of major European wholesalers, not to mention many others. So we have several European wholesalers who are carrying a tremendous amount of Yukon product, not only summer and winter. And if the member opposite is aware, we are seeing an increase of visitors coming to the Yukon from our international overseas markets, thanks to Condor and to others coming up the highway. Thereís the fly-drive market, wherein individuals fly in to, say, Whitehorse, and they rent a motorhome or camper, et cetera, and they travel around. Weíre seeing high-yield spending as well from those areas. Through our gateway cities program, we are appealing to a number of Canadians. You will see that reflected in our statistics as well ó an increase in the Canadian market.
Also, the aurora-viewing market is up significantly, thanks to the good work of industry working with our Tourism department and others to maintain air access that is affordable, accessible and maintains connectivity with a number of our major overseas markets.
In terms of the meetings, conventions, incentive and travel, again it continues to be a success story. We see a whole host of meetings taking place throughout the Yukon, including the Member for Klondikeís own area.
The Yukon Convention Bureau, the Klondike Visitors Association and many others do a very good job on behalf of Yukoners, attracting many, many different markets, and sport tourism is one of the most recent markets we are targeting, in view of the Canada Winter Games. In fact, when we look at the recent win of the 2008 World Junior Weightlifting Championships that is going to be taking place here, itís a tremendous opportunity again for the Yukon to shine, with over 800 people, I understand, coming to town here and also spending time in other communities.
So, again, when you look to some of these various areas, I take a different view from the member opposite in terms of shining lights out there. Thereís no question that we need to always be creative and flexible in our application of marketing strategies to address some of these challenges before us. But they certainly are pertinent to the Yukon. Since 9/11, we have been indulged with a number of challenges ó not to mention air turbulence in our air service, not to mention things like SARS, especially with the exchange rate. But again, industry has been very resilient and they have been able to rise above those challenges and demographics are changing; we have to change with those demographic changes as well. Rest assured we are doing our utmost best to come up with creative strategies to address the marketplace, and we are working hard with industry and thatís one thing that Iím very proud to commend my Department of Tourism and Culture for ó for developing and garnering such a very close relationship with industry.
If it wasnít industry-led, we certainly wouldnít be as good as we are today. We realize that there are challenges, but again we continue to be very creative and continue to refine our strategies through tourism marketing strategies on a yearly as well as a three-year basis.
Chair: We have reached our normal time for a mid-afternoon recess. Do members wish to take a break?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.
Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Weíll continue with Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 54 cleared or carried, as required.
Chair: Before we put the motion forward, is there any other member who wishes to ask a question in general debate?
Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried
Chair: Hearing none, Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?
All Hon. Members: Agreed.
†Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Tourism in the amount of $1,067,000 agreed to
On Capital Expenditures
Total Capital Expenditures for the Department of Tourism and Culture in the amount of $781,000 agreed to
Department of Tourism and Culture agreed to
Chair: We will continue with Vote 3, Department of Education.
Department of Education
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: It gives me great pleasure to introduce the 2005-06 supplementary budget for the Department of Education. Our government has once again increased the budget for the Department of Education. In fact, this continues to be the largest budget for Education in the history of the Yukon.
We continue our commitment to meet the needs of all Yukoners, regardless of where they are in the system. The supplementary covers students from kindergarten to additional apprenticeship training. The operation and maintenance budget has been increased by a net amount of $875,000, which is made up of education support services, which was reduced to $214,000 due to the late start in the education reform process and will be carried forward and used in future years to ensure that the project is successful and has the resources required to hear from all Yukon citizens.
Schools are being increased by $989,000, of which $858,000 is recoverable from the federal government ó Heritage Canada. This recovery is for specific projects within the bilateral agreement, such as $220,000 for opportunities for lifelong learning; $140,000 for full-day kindergarten for French immersion students; $97,000 for the promotion and leadership program; $90,000 for cultural integration; $90,000 for francophone programs; $80,000 for information technology support, $50,000 for student-teacher exchanges; $30,000 for teacher recruitment; and $61,000 for miscellaneous programs for teachersí curriculum and support.
Within public schools there is another $131,000 that is intended for fetal alcohol syndrome disorder initiatives that will complement the current Health and Social Services initiative intended to diagnose and support preschool children. This funding allows us to continue the process by providing a diagnostic team for our Yukon schools. This team will consist of a speech and language pathologist and an occupational therapist, plus provide contract money for psychological services when required.
Advanced education is being increased by $100,000 for apprenticeship training initiatives.
This brings me to the capital supplementary requests of $1,966,000 for the department. This whole request is to revote funds from last year to complete projects in this fiscal year. The revote request covers many projects in our schools. Some of the largest ones include: $306,000 for a cafeteria expansion in the Porter Creek Secondary School, which was expanded after our consultation with the community and the school council to provide a service that best suits the residents and the students; $277,000 is for completing the planning and design of the Tantalus School; $261,000 is being asked to complete some obligations in the community training areas, and these funds form part of some multi-year obligations; $196,000 is for an emergency lighting system upgrade at Porter Creek Secondary School, a project that addresses the safety issues of having enough emergency lighting throughout the building; $178,000 is for various schools to complete projects initiated by school councils and not completed by fiscal year-end.
$123,000 is for school-initiated renovations, which allow school administrators to complete school-based projects that are priorities for the staff but not covered by any regular maintenance schedule. There are many smaller projects that will be addressed in the line-by-line discussions of the supplementary request.
Our government continues to support education in the Yukon and, with this budget, I feel we once again demonstrate this commitment.
At this time, Mr. Chair, I would be pleased to answer questions that the members opposite would ask of me and my department.
Mr. Fairclough: I will try to be short and save my voice for another day. The minister is lucky today.
I do have some questions for the minister. I noticed in the capital budget that there were a lot of increases to a number of line budgets, almost all the way down. I am interested to know why the department was so far off in their estimates in the spring. It is unusual to have such an increase in the fall in Education under capital. There are a number of them that are quite high, and I donít know if the minister feels the jobs will be finished off or what. For example, the cafeteria ó I canít remember where it is ó is about $306,000. I am wondering why these are added on. Is it because most of the projects are being finished faster than anticipated? Or is it an increase in construction costs?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, I can explain these for the member opposite. I apologize. I didnít know that the member opposite had a cold or else we could have probably deferred this.
The short answer would be that, yes, these jobs are anticipated to be completed. But in the public schools, the facility construction and maintenance for education reform was $26,000. This revote is required for furniture and equipment to accommodate the start-up costs for this project, such as desks, chairs and photocopiers. With the Mayo school, $38,000, the revote is required to complete a storage shed that was postponed from last year. The department continues to monitor the foundation for deterioration due to settling. For the Eliza Van Bibber School, the addition of the heating system of $62,000 ó the revote is required to complete the corridor upgrade connecting the new wing to the existing wing. The construction industry was unable to complete the upgrade last year. The Vanier Catholic Secondary School ground-source heat pump of $96,000 ó the revote is required to fund the completion of the design of the proposed heating system for Vanier Catholic Secondary School. This energy project is being done with the Energy Solutions Centre. For the Teslin school renovations for the new gymnasium of $92,000, the revote is required to complete the design of the new gymnasium. The project schedule was disrupted during 2004-05 due to discussions regarding the scope of the project.
The Porter Creek Secondary cafeteria expansion and renovation are $306,000. This revote is required to complete the design. Project delays occurred due to extensive planning and major scope changes. The Porter Creek Secondary emergency lighting upgrade of $196,000 was originally intended to replace the older generator. Subsequent to further investigation, the estimated cost to replace the generator increased to $450,000, to $500,000. It was deemed more cost efficient to replace the current emergency lighting system with a battery-pack lighting system. This meets all current codes and addresses the safety issue of not having adequate emergency lighting throughout the building. The revote is required to complete the design and installation of the emergency lighting.
The soccer field replacement upgrades of $20,000 ó this revote is required to complete upgrades to Christ the King Elementary School and …cole Emilie Tremblay soccer fields. The Tantalus School replacement $277,000 revote is required to complete planning and design. The project was delayed while community discussions took place regarding the attachment of a community learning centre. This project is now on schedule and is expected to be completed by August 2006.
The school-initiated renovations of $123,000 ó this revote is required for all schools to complete their school-based projects. The Whitehorse Elementary School upgrade of $62,000 ó this revote is required to fund completion of phase 1, which is a retrofit of eight water drinking fountains that had exposed piping and insulation repairs with duct tape.
The interior corridor painting was best delayed until summer to avoid disruption during school.
Various school facility renovations of $45,000 ó this revote is required to fund design and installation of a security system at Selkirk Elementary School.†
Indoor air quality of $23,000 ó this revote is required for completion of the design for the Jack Hulland ventilation system upgrade.
The capital maintenance repairs of $89,000 is a revote required to fund the tendering and completion of several projects, such as skylight repairs, door upgrades and flooring projects in various schools.
The distance education amount of $19,000 is a revote required to complete the software phases for delivery of video conferencing facilities.
The school-based equipment purchase of $178,000 is a revote required for all schools to complete projects initiated by school councils and staff not completed by the fiscal year-end, which differs from the end of the school year. Also included is funding, which is recoverable from the Network of Innovative Schools. This funding was allocated to the Carcross Community School and Whitehorse Elementary School.
School replacement furniture from local manufacturers in the amount of $34,000 is a revote required for the purchase of locally manufactured furniture ordered for various schools, but not yet received by year-end. The schools involved were the Tantalus School, Christ the King Elementary School, Vanier Catholic Secondary School, Grey Mountain Primary School, Jack Hulland Elementary School, Selkirk Elementary School, and the Hidden Valley School.
The community training fund of $261,000 ó this revote is required for commitments made late in 2004-05, but the agreements were not yet signed. Commitments included: Music Yukon, $75,000; the community training fund, $75,000; the Learning Disabilities Association of the Yukon, $95,000; student financial assistance system, $19,000. This revote is required to complete the implementation of SFAS and the financial management information system interface for accounts payable. The next phase of this project is the development of a Web-based service design. The design of this service is occurring in the 2005-06 fiscal year with development to follow.
Mr. Fairclough: That explains some of it, but I do have questions on a number of the items, and Iíll get to it shortly, if thereís time. The department has taken on a major direction of education reform. We havenít heard a whole lot about an update from the minister lately. I would like to know what the workplan is, schedules and so on, if he could lay that out clearly for me.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: With education reform, the working group is now in place. We have finally established an office over in the Elijah Smith Building; I believe it is suite 300.
There is an open house there on Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. I believe things are progressing quite well. They have gone to a number of the communities and are now starting to ó I donít have a copy of their schedule with me, but they have a schedule that has basically been put in place for the next year, of their scheduled community tours and all the different interest groups that theyíll be meeting with.
Mr. Fairclough: Perhaps the department is listening and can send that workplan down. I would like to look at it. I am interested in it. Can the minister tell us what the approximate cost is for completion of this education reform? Does he have those numbers in front of him?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Chair, I believe the budget for completion of this process would be approximately $1.5 million to the end.
Mr. Fairclough: And Iím hoping that the minister can also send over the workplan, once it is sent down to him.
Mr. Chair, $1.5 million is a lot of money. This government decided not to complete the education review. As it is laid out in legislation, it must be done every 10 years. The majority of that work was done. I think First Nations have voiced themselves on why theyíre going back out and being heard again on the education reform. I would like to know what the ministerís thoughts are on that, all the information gathered on the review of the Education Act and how itís going to be incorporated or used in the tour with the education reform.
Is it, in fact, being used, or are we looking at new information, new data, new directions?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The member opposite is correct that there was a lot of information gathered previous to this government taking the direction to do a complete education review. The information that was gathered is going to be taken into consideration in this Education Act review. I want to state for the record that approximately 80 percent of the concerns raised in the Education Act review were not education-related; they were outside of education.
This process is being endorsed by the First Nations because itís going to be a more in-depth process.
At this point in time there are a few questions that need to be answered with regard to education. One of the things we hope to achieve from this process is to answer the question on how First Nations can be involved in the education system, whether through legislative changes or through policy changes. I think the process is necessary, because at this point in time, there are First Nations that are talking about taking on education. They feel that the present system doesnít meet their needs.
Again, I want to state for the record that the First Nations did not endorse the Education Act review. Thatís why it didnít go forward. It was a three-party agreement to begin with. At the end of the day, the First Nations wouldnít approve it.
Mr. Fairclough: So, what the minister is saying is that the information thatís gathered will be taken by the group in their tours, and heís not in agreement with me.
The Childrenís Act, also with First Nations, is a very broad scope, and First Nations are talking about broader things than just the Childrenís Act itself. That was part of the problem with the Education Act. They wanted to be heard on the issues of education, not just the act. And thatís where people felt it went wrong ó because the focus of the department was on the act and not with the other issues outside of the act affecting education.
I guess that brings me to the issue that the minister raised ó well, just before I go on to that, are we expecting then, at the end of the day, all the information gathered through the education reform to have amendments to the Education Act? Is it just direction, or are we going to see amendments to the Education Act in the end?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: It certainly is a possibility that there will be changes to the act, but it will also involve how the department operates from year to year within education and what involvement the First Nations will have with the direction the Education department will take.
Mr. Fairclough: There are some First Nations that are looking at drawing down education, and I believe they are not taking part in any discussion with the education reform. How is the minister dealing with that? And how will he include their views in changes made to the Education Act through education reform if their voices arenít being heard?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, I think Iíve stated several times on the floor of the Legislature that the government will respect the views of other self-governing First Nations if they choose to take down education. I guess there is a process that has to be followed, and the government will honour it. At the end of the day, I donít believe that the whole territory should be held up because a First Nation chooses not to get involved. But we certainly hope that they all will.
At the end of the day, we all have to live in this territory together. I believe there are a lot of intermarriages and a lot of us are living under the same roof. So, the governmentís best interest, of course, always has to be to every citizen in the territory. We cannot pick or choose what group we will represent. We have to provide infrastructure and an education system for all Yukoners. As an individual, I certainly hope that everyone will come on board and be part of developing an education system that everyone is going to endorse. I certainly believe it is to the benefit of our children, and it is to the benefit of the future of the Yukon Territory.
Mr. Fairclough: What the minister is saying is that those self-governing First Nations who are interested in education, if theyíre not involved, well, theyíre out. The government is moving ahead with or without them. Thatís what the minister said.
It seems to be that way on a number of fronts.
With regard to drawing down education, the minister understands where the First Nations are coming from. They are not happy with the way things have gone lately, so theyíre moving in this direction. Itís under their final agreement. What needs to take place is that they do their homework and so does the Yukon government. The Yukon government also has to do its homework, because what I heard from the minister is that everyone is under this umbrella. Education is for all and we should be working together as best as we can to develop something thatís not splitting us so far apart. Guess what? Thatís where the First Nations are going, too. They want to do their homework. It takes a lot of time to do this homework. Part of what they need to do is get someone started on it. They need to look at all the different options that are open to them so they can clearly spell out to their members whether or not they should draw down education. So does the Yukon government. The information has to be forthcoming from them, too.
First Nation budgets are tight. The Yukon government has money. Are there any monies in the Department of Education to flow to First Nations that are looking to draw down education and get their homework done? Has the minister or department thought about that and how they can help out?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: At this point in time, to the best of my knowledge, there is no money set aside to hand over to First Nations who want to draw down education. I believe it is part of the agreements and there is a process that must be followed in order to do that.
The government has made available equal representation on the education reform team for First Nations. I donít know what else this government or any other government can do to make this a fair process. Weíre all equal; weíre all going to be making the decisions that are coming forward. I again encourage all other First Nations who donít belong to CYFN to get involved.
To the best of my knowledge, there are only one or two ó one who doesnít belong to CYFN and is choosing not to be involved; the other ones are. I know there are some members of CYFN who are choosing not to be involved, but thatís something that CYFN has to deal with.
I believe that, at the end of the day, the most beneficial way would be for all of us to be involved with this education reform and lay out a process we feel will improve the education system to meet the needs of the Yukon people.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister is on the same line and I would like to continue that. When he says weíre all equal ó Iíve asked a lot of questions of the Minister of Community Services in this House about water and sewer and it seems like, if youíre First Nations, you go over there. Thatís the problem Iím having with this government here. I donít want to see that in education. I want the minister to be right in front, working with First Nations on this matter.
I sort of understand how things need to take place. The three First Nations ó Kwanlin Dun, Na Cho Nyšk Dun and Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation ó are together in trying to draw down education. Theyíre working together. Theyíve met and they want to pool their money and resources to look at this matter and take it back to their people.
They have some pretty good people working in education. The way I understand it, the Yukon government can get involved ó this government can get involved. As a matter of fact, if the minister thinks about it a little bit and talks it over with his department, it would help in advancing the education reform because the same issues would come out, maybe in more detail, during negotiations of drawing-down education than would in the education reform. Itís more detailed and itís more specific to the First Nations.
It has to be of interest to the Yukon government, too, because this is what could happen. A First Nations in drawing down the education would be drawing down the education for all their citizens, which means all over the Yukon ó wherever they are ó say Carmacks, for example. All over the Yukon, whether they are in B.C. or what not, they are drawing down the education for them. So, if Yukon government is providing education to one of their citizens, they basically charge the First Nation back for providing that education.
The same would be for Yukon government and the First Nation ó maybe the Yukon government wants to make a deal with the First Nation in providing education to the citizens in Carmacks who donít fall under the First Nation. So, charges could go back and forth. You are billing one government or the other.
What I am saying is that itís very detailed in how the First Nations need to be working with the federal government and the territorial government on this matter. It is in the interests of the Yukon government to perhaps front some money to these three First Nations to help them out to do the homework with Yukon government. The other course of action is to go to the feds ó but that could take a long time. The Yukon government can help; they donít need to be backing away from this.
Thatís what Iím asking. I want to ask the minister if he can seriously consider this, take it back to his department and, if he would like, he could work with me on this matter because Iím up to speed so far with where the First Nations ó the three First Nations ó are going. They all have contact people and theyíre all working together. This is very serious and if the minister is interested in that then perhaps we can work on this and have it reflected in the spring budget.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Iíd like to state for the record at this time that, being First Nation, Iíve had several people in different communities contact me, including Carmacks, Mayo, and a lot of people within Kwanlin Dun and other people I know around the territory. And itís not 100 percent supported. Thereís not 100 percent support of First Nations taking down education, not even in the communities the member opposite mentioned. Iíve had phone calls at my home here from citizens who belong to Carmacks, who have said theyíre not a part of it and they donít want to be a part of it.
So I guess Iíve had more phone calls in opposition to taking down education as opposed to the ones who agree with it. I believe that there has to be a lot of work done in this area yet. And Iíve been informed by the department that they have been talking with some of the First Nations who wanted to discuss taking down education. The department is ready to sit down and talk to any of the First Nations who want to go in that direction.
Mr. Fairclough: Thereís still no commitment from the minister. Anything that people do is probably not 100 percent supported, but I donít believe there was a flood of phone calls to the minister at all on this matter ó or the department. Iíve talked to a lot of people in both Mayo and Carmacks on this matter. The thing Iím trying to get the minister to understand is the First Nation wants to work with the government to do their homework, so they can take it back to their members, so they can decide on whether or not they should draw down education.
The decision is to move forward and bring back the information, and the decision to draw down education comes later. All the negotiations and all that could take place, but, in fact, the members could vote it down or vote for it. Thatís a fact. I think there are only four places in Canada that have drawn down education under a self-government agreement ó only four. Most times, the federal government has been dealing with bands instead of First Nations. All their agreements are through that, and theyíre watered down and theyíre not nearly as good or what we need here in the territory.
So they want to do their homework and they want the Yukon government to also be fully aware of what it entails. So that is what Iím asking ó theyíre going to move forward, either with the federal government or with their own pot of money. It will probably take several hundred thousand dollars to do this, to get people working at it. I want to know how interested the Yukon government is ó not just department people, but putting resources forward to ensure that all is done properly as far as doing the homework. That is the kind of commitment Iím trying to get from the minister, and it doesnít have to be reflected, of course, in this budget, but it could be reflected in the spring budget.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The only comment I have to make to this is that the self-government agreements provide that Canada shall negotiate a funding agreement. I honestly believe in my heart that no territorial government is going to willingly step forward and take over all the financial responsibilities for which the federal government has taken responsibility since hundreds of years ago.
The federal government is the one that decided they put the Indian Act in place. The federal government decided that every First Nation would be a ward of the state. I donít think we will see the day when any provincial or territorial government will voluntarily say that theyíll take over all the responsibilities for First Nations that the federal government presently has the fiduciary responsibility for.
I was involved with a First Nation that did take over some programming, which was successful, but it was very time-consuming. The member opposite is correct in that. It is time-consuming. It takes dedication and a lot of will on behalf of the First Nation to get out and get an education to run the departments. I believe that someday it may become reality, but itís going to take awhile. I donít view anything negative about a First Nation drawing down any program that they negotiated. All I say, as a minister of this government, is that I wonít ó and canít ó make a commitment to start taking over the financial responsibilities of the federal government.
Mr. Fairclough: I think the minister is so far off-track here it isnít funny. Iím not even talking about that. Maybe he should seek advice from his aides. I am not talking about federal government responsibilities. Right now, the money for education does flow to the Yukon government.
Iím not going to pursue this, because I didnít want the Minister of Education to do exactly what the Minister of Community Services did. He said, ďIf youíre a First Nation, go to the federal government.Ē Thatís embarrassing.
I thought this minister would have picked up the ball a bit. It would have cost the government, really, next to nothing to do this ó to pick up the ball. It would cost way less than the education reform and the work would be done for him.
But itís not a priority, so Iím going to leave it alone. Iíll take that message back to my community. I will take back to Kwanlin Dun that the Yukon government ó it is exactly what they thought. Why ask the Yukon government for any of this, because they will not move ó not this government. I thought for a minute that maybe the minister could move on these issues that have been raised in the communities. I will leave it at that.
I do want to talk about the Carmacks school. This is year 3 of the Yukon Party mandate. There is one year to go, maybe less ó maybe quite a bit less, maybe there will be a spring election ó and there wonít be much time. Is this school on schedule for being built? Are we behind? Are we running into problems? I see there are increased costs already and we havenít even started the project. Maybe the minister can give me a little update about the progress being made on building this school.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: In response to the first part of the member oppositeís concerns, I want to be perfectly clear that I feel the government has picked up the ball by providing equal representation to First Nations on the education reform process. I believe that is being fair.
With regard to the Carmacks school, it is on schedule, it is on time. There was one issue where some of the soil had to be excavated where the gymnasium is going to sit, but thatís not going to slow down the project.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, it seems to be going pretty slowly, as I watch the progress. There are no walls up like we thought there would be in the winter, and we thought they would be working inside the school.
Can the minister tell us more about the problems they ran into? Is it costing the government extra in regard to the soil? There are two things they hit: one was clay and another was a garbage pit, or an old garbage dump. I want to know if the department has done the work to ensure that this is not a contaminated site of any kind.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Chair, the project will continue. In the spring, the sub-excavation of the gym area will be undertaken to replace the poor soil with granular material. I believe that will rectify the issue with the poor soil.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister didnít answer the two questions in regard to the soil that they ran into. I believe that the minister is saying theyíre going to build a shell and then replace the soil later with cleaner stuff. I want to know about the dump, the garbage dump that they ran into, and whether or not any of this area is actually a contaminated site.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Mr. Chair, I have had no information whatsoever brought to my attention about a garbage dump or any kind of garbage being dug up there or any kind of contamination of the soil.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, how often is the minister updated on this? Because I heard about this about three weeks ago ó almost a month ago, at the very beginning of their work. So the department hasnít heard any of this? Whatís going on here? This is major stuff. Itís not a small issue.
I see the minister getting updated now. Perhaps he has more detail. If not, I would like the department to provide me with that detail.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: There have been no major problems identified to the government.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, is the minister not interested in this? Why wouldnít he look into the matter? It was brought to my attention, it slowed down work with the contractor, and it is a big issue. Itís not something that the minister should just walk away from because, in the future, this could be one heck of a problem for the Department of Education ó a big problem. I donít think the minister should just be ignoring it, saying that it hasnít been brought to their attention, because itís a serious matter.
I would like the minister to look into this matter ó both the garbage pit that they found and this clay that they ran into† and what problems they might have ó and to have that information sent to me in detail. Iíd like the minister to look into this matter seriously.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I was advised by the department that they did not consider there to be a problem. However, if there is a concern, I could look into it, to ensure that what the member opposite is bringing up is not going to be a major problem.
Mr. Fairclough: I appreciate that. The community might feel relieved to hear that ó the sooner the better, because a school is going to be built on that site.
What I would like to ask the minister about is his understanding of First Nations drawing down education. As I understand it, if the federal government ever provides funding to a First Nation to build and run their own school, it is a school on reserve or settlement land. Is that the same understanding as the ministerís?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I believe that it would be their prerogative where they build their school, if they are taking over education.
Mr. Fairclough: Does the minister have the same understanding that, if the federal government funds a First Nation to run their own school, the school has to be on settlement or reserve land? Does he have that understanding?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, I donít believe that I really have any definite understanding of where a First Nation would build a school. It would be a process that I assume would be part of the negotiations. I have no idea if the First Nation would want to build on its own land or buy public land and put it somewhere else. I think it would be their own choice.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, this is shocking that the minister doesnít know. I brought this issue up for the minister before the school was built or the decision was made about the possibility of this happening. The problem is that, in say the community of Carmacks, there could be the same problem. The school that is being built could in fact sit empty because the federal government would not flow money to a First Nation if the school is not on settlement or reserve land.
Thatís what Iím trying to say and I need the minister to fully understand that and, if he doesnít, he needs to be briefed on it, because itís a very important matter and one that government should have been fully aware of when asked this question years ago about replacing the school. I would like to know if the minister is going to get up to speed with that and get back to me on this matter because itís important ó important in how Yukon government builds capital projects, particularly schools.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Well, I guess thereís always that possibility that a First Nation could negotiate something with the Yukon government but, Mr. Chair, at the end of the day there will always be a public school. For those who donít want to go to the First Nation school, there has to be. Itís the governmentís responsibility to provide a public school so there will always be a public school. Whether the First Nation wants to negotiate something with the government of the day, I imagine that option will always be there.
Mr. Fairclough: So do I, Mr. Chair, but in fact it could be the other way. Itís not a very good relationship with this government right now. It could be that the First Nation wants to build their own on settlement land so they can get the federal monies flowing. Thatís the issue here and itís a big issue that the department should take seriously and look at seriously. They need a briefing, I think, from their land claims department and from the Finance department on what and how these types of things work.
If the minister has the people there to brief him, I would go to that briefing too. Iíd like to understand how the Yukon government thinks versus perhaps the lawyers who have been working on the matter with the First Nation governments.
Itís very serious. If we see Kwanlin Dun, for example, following the same suit as Na Cho Nyšk Dun, then it could be a problem with this government. If First Nations are taking down education, it will be kindergarten to grade 12, it will not be up to grade 3 or grade 8 or elementary grades. It has to be consistent. Like the minister said, they canít have one school and another school. They canít have that splitting the community. Their thoughts are there. They are way ahead in thinking on this matter. I want the minister to be fully updated on this issue because the decisions he makes, or the minister or Premier makes, affect a lot of what they do in their negotiations. Itís too late for Carmacks; the school is being built. Caution flags went up and were sent to the ministers, and so on, but the school is being built without the First Nation.
Iíd like to ask this question, then. The Premier said he wants to make First Nations full partners in economic development ó big projects, people in the community working. How come it didnít happen with this project, with the Carmacks school? Why didnít it happen? What happened to the partnership? How did it fall apart?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The member opposite seems to start out on one path and jump to another one and then back to another one. Iím trying to follow the trail here.
To sort of get back to the first part of his questioning, I would say to the member opposite that it is not only this government that has had problems working with First Nations. So did all the other governments. It appears that whichever the government of the day may be, itís not always necessarily whatís stated by the opposition. Itís not all gravy for the other parties with First Nations.††
I so happen to have been on Kwanlin Dun government for many years, so I know. Iíve had the opportunity to work with all governments in this territory. We will always have differences, and that is expected. There is no doubt about it. It doesnít matter which government is here, because at one point in time, youíre not going to be able to agree with a First Nation on an issue and youíll become an enemy again, I guess. Thatís just the way it is.
As far as workers in Carmacks, at the present time, the start-up was like any start-up project. You donít automatically have 300 people working there. People will be phased in as the project progresses. At the present time, there are three workers and there are two pieces of equipment rented from the people in Carmacks who are working on the job. In my opinion, people from Carmacks are working on the job and they are making use of their equipment on the job site.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, I canít be really proud of that number ó three workers, Mr. Chair.
I asked about the full partners in economic development, and the minister didnít say where it went wrong. Can he say what he did and what the Premier did to try to ensure that First Nations are full partners in this project, in economic development, to provide jobs and so on? Can he lay out all the different events that took place between the Premier and the First Nation, the minister and the First Nation, the minister and the Premier?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I believe the offer was extended to the people in Carmacks, and especially the First Nation, to be involved with this project. Again, itís their choice. We canít force anybody to do anything. But Yukon College ran a pre-trades qualifier course sponsored by Little Salmon-Carmacks First Nation in the spring of 2004. The college also ran a carpentry level 1 training course from February to April 2005, which seven Carmacks residents completed.
So the jobs will be available there. People only need to be there to fill them.
Mr. Fairclough: It seems like the First Nation is doing their part. I want to know what the government is doing. What theyíve been asked to do, in the end, was to help design this empty room that theyíre building. That was what they were asked to do in the college section, in the end. They did all the work in goodwill in designing the school, and it fell apart, and the minister knows why.
But there is no partnership in economic development. Thatís what the minister is saying. There is none.
This is a major project in the community. Itís going to be a building used by the community for many, many years, for many different types of events. Normally, the community people are proud to have said that they built this building. They said it in Old Crow. They worked hard on this building, on their school. They did it in Ross River and the same in Mayo. You can go there, and youíll see people that say that they participated and they built this section of the school or they did this ó they were part of putting on the roofing, or putting on the siding, or even helping with the electrical.
So far, we canít say that in Carmacks. Thatís a real issue with me. People want to say that they are proud of this community building, but it isnít happening yet. I donít believe that they were invited at all to be full partners in the economic development of this project. I donít see people working there. I see people from Dawson working on this project, but not from Carmacks.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I really donít want to go down this road with the member opposite, because we will be getting into issues of social problems and other things that will come up. We are starting off on probably not very good ground with regard to employment in Carmacks. For example, right at the beginning, six Carmacks residents were hired. Three had to be dismissed for failure to show up for work. I am hoping that we can overcome those kinds of problems and barriers. Maybe something different has to be done so people arenít let go for missing work. I donít know the answer to that problem.
I certainly encourage people in Carmacks to take every opportunity of this availability to be able to have some employment. There is probably going to be quite a large number of opportunities for work in the near future.
Again, I want to stress that when any project first starts up, itís not uncommon not to have 35 workers there during the first few weeks of the job. I know from a lot of my experiences in working on different jobs, it depended on what skills you were trained in as to where you started on a job. I am a journeyman welder, and in construction I usually started two months before the operators came.
The member opposite made a comment about Dawson people working there, and he is right. The Han Construction out of Dawson has been subcontracted by Dowland Contracting, and Dowland Contracting is the firm that was the low bidder on that job to do the groundwork and foundation of the school. This company is First Nation-owned and First Nation-operated. Not only do we have local First Nation individuals working on the project, we are also proud to see wholly-owned First Nation companies involved.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, itís great that they are working there and Iím glad to see that, but I would like to see the local people working more. Thatís what I am trying to get at; thatís what Iím trying to straighten out with the minister. So Iím going to work on that.
One of the issues raised by one of the workers who walked away from the job was the pay. I would like the minister to check into this. On government jobs you pay government wages. I believe thatís how it is and labourers make $18.80 an hour. I believe that some of these workers are getting $14 an hour. Has this issue been raised with the department at all?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Iíve been advised that this has not been raised with the department, but I believe the fair wage schedule isnít in place in all government contracts.
Mr. Fairclough: I would like the minister to look into that matter because it was brought to my attention too. I couldnít believe it; I had to go and check the wages that were paid for labourers, and itís $18.80 an hour through the Yukon government and, from what I understand, they were getting $14 an hour. If thereís a mistake there, it needs to be corrected. I think the department or the government needs to look into that.
Seeing the time being close to 6:00 p.m. I move that we report progress on Bill No. 17.
Chair: Mr. Fairclough has moved that we report progress on Bill No. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06.
Motion agreed to
Hon. Mr. Cathers: I move that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Cathers that the Speaker do now resume the Chair.
Motion agreed to
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 17, Second Appropriation Act, 2005-06, and directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report of the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Hon. Mr. Cathers: I move that the House do now adjourn.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the House do now adjourn.
Motion agreed to
Speaker: This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.
The House adjourned at 5:57 p.m.
The following Sessional Papers were tabled December 13, 2005:
Government Contracting Summary Report by Department (April 1, 2004 Ė March 31, 2005)† (Hart)
Yukon Human Rights Commission 2004-05 Annual Report† (Speaker Staffen)