197 Hansard

Whitehorse, Yukon

Thursday, April 27, 2006 - 1:00 p.m.

Speaker: I will now call the House to order. At this time, we will proceed with prayers.



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

Are there any tributes?


In recognition of the National Day of Mourning

Hon. Mr. Cathers: Tomorrow, April 28, is the annual National Day of Mourning for workers who have been injured or killed on the job. This national day of remembrance was founded by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1984 and entrenched by the Workers Mourning Day Act that was passed in federal Parliament in 1991.

At tomorrow's Day of Mourning ceremony, we need to do more than remember those who suffered. We need to commit to keeping ourselves and others safe at work. In the 15 years since the Workers Mourning Day Act has passed, there have been more than 18,000 injuries and 39 known fatalities in Yukon workplaces.

The equivalent of more than our entire workforce has been injured on the job in the past 15 years. Worse, these Yukon injuries, these Yukon deaths, are all preventable. These injuries and deaths are not statistics. These are our co-workers, our loved ones, our children and our neighbours. Hundreds more will be injured in Yukon workplaces during the coming year, and some will never fully heal. Some may, in fact, die. We must not let this happen. Tomorrow's National Day of Mourning ceremonies are a chance to stand together as individuals, and a community, to commit to not letting these injuries happen - to keeping each other safe together.

I invite members and Yukoners to show their support by attending the National Day of Mourning ceremony tomorrow, Friday, April 28 at 12:30 p.m. here in the Yukon government main administration building.

Mr. Cardiff: I rise today to pay tribute to April 28, the National Day of Mourning. As the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board indicated, in the last 15 years the statistics in the Yukon are shocking. I heard some other statistics recently that really caused me some concern as well, because I find them shocking. It's shocking that we even allow this to happen.

In B.C., for instance, in the forestry industry alone, 45 workers lost their lives last year. It's an astounding figure when that many people in one year go to work and don't come home. It's a horrendous thing, and it exacts an incredible toll on their families. I think it needs to be recognized. And that happens here in the Yukon as well.

It's also interesting to note that Canada's international record among developing countries is one of the worst, but there is some hope, I believe, and that's what April 28 is about. It's about remembering, and it's also about looking forward with hope that we can make it better.

I'd like to recognize the efforts of the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board through their ad campaign and the establishment of the prevention fund, the work that they're doing to try to change the culture in the workplace, and as well for the creation of a permanent memorial in partnership with the Yukon Federation of Labour and other organizations locally - a permanent memorial in remembrance of those people who have been injured and those people who have lost their lives.

I'd also like to recognize the efforts of the Yukon Construction Association and the work they're doing with employees and employers in the certificate of recognition program and the small business safety certificate. I've actually had an opportunity to see, first-hand, some of this work in action, attending safety meetings. All of this goes toward making workplaces safer, and that's the object of April 28: to remember, to recognize and to show hope for the future that together we can make workplaces safer.

I think that one role of society is to ensure that one workplace death is not acceptable, and I think that together, if we work collectively and we take responsibility as employers and employees in the workplace, we can do that and together we can keep each other safe.

Mr. Mitchell:  I, too, rise today on behalf of the Liberal caucus to pay tribute to the National Day of Mourning on April 28. The day of mourning act was passed 15 years ago and, as both of my colleagues have noted, over the past 15 years 39 additional Yukoners have died on the job.

This Day of Mourning is dedicated to honouring injured workers and the memory of workers killed on the job, and we in Yukon join with the rest of Canada and more than 80 countries around the world in paying tribute.

Safety on the job must be a priority for everyone, and the responsibility for safety belongs to each one of us. Employers must establish and enforce safety procedures, provide ongoing training and correct unsafe working conditions. Employees must follow workplace safety procedures and report any unsafe work conditions. By working together, watching out for each other and enforcing proper safety procedures, we can help prevent workplace injuries and deaths.

Almost every day, a Canadian dies as a result of a workplace incident or accident. As we mourn for the dead, we must also renew our commitment to our workforce to improve working conditions for all, keeping ourselves and others safe on the job. The Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, using the $5-million prevention fund, has embarked on a major program targeting worker safety. Accidents are preventable, and by making the commitment that you and I will keep each other safe we will save lives and prevent needless suffering by injured workers. Employers also benefit by not losing valued and productive workers from the workplace.

Day of Mourning pins are available at many Whitehorse businesses and offices by making a small donation that will help fund the Yukon permanent workers memorial. Please make a contribution and wear the pins. Join us in the Day of Mourning ceremony this Friday, April 28, at 12:30 p.m. in the foyer of the main YTG building. Light and add a candle to the new memorial on behalf of an injured worker or a deceased worker's family who is unable to attend.

Thank you.

In recognition of Victims of Crime Awareness Week

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I rise to pay tribute to Canada's first National Victims of Crime Awareness Week being held from April 23 to 29, 2006.

The theme chosen for this inaugural year is “People, Services and Laws”. National activities and events held during the week are raising awareness of victims' issues, the services that are available to victims and their families, and about laws that help protect victims. The week is also highlighting the progress made on victim issues across Canada. Here in the Yukon, activity has focused on raising public awareness of the services available to victims of crime.

Kiosks were set up at Yukon College on Tuesday, at the court house on Wednesday and in the foyer of the main YTG administration building today to offer information on services available locally and to answer questions people may have.

This year, National Victims of Crime Awareness Week coincides with National Volunteer Week. It is particularly important to recognize the ongoing efforts of countless volunteer victim service providers who dedicate their time and energy to helping victims of crime. During this first National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, let us be aware of the needs of victims, recognize our past successes and continue to address and advance victim issues.

Thank you.

Mr. Cardiff: I rise on behalf of the official opposition to pay tribute to National Victims of Crime Awareness Week. Information sessions about the volunteer system on being a witness and about victim services in the RCMP will be held at various public venues this week in recognition of this first Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

In the Yukon , territorial victim services branch provides support and advice for victims of crime. They are assisted by many trained volunteers who willingly give of their time and skills to give personal help to victims. In this week of recognizing volunteers, we give special thanks to these selfless individuals who are not always openly recognized.

There was a time in the history of the world when victims of crimes or their families were the only ones who might take it upon themselves to rectify a wrong done to them. Simple justice was equated with revenge. Not that long ago, especially in the opening up of the western part of North America, vigilante groups would be formed to make amends for crimes upon victims.

As civilization became more complex and fairer practices in justice were seen to be a responsibility that was outside of the individual, a system of policing, courts and jails was developed. Unfortunately, the victim of crime was often overlooked as an important element in that complex system and process of court-centred action, except when civil suits were contemplated.

About 30 years ago, the concerns of victims of crime emerged in Canada. Originally compensation programs for criminal injuries were given to police officers as victims of crime, injured in the line of duty. Programs expanded to give limited compensation to other eligible victims of violent crime.

Today, victim impact statements are a common part of many court procedures, and the point of view of the victim of criminal acts is an important consideration in the sentencing.

The future is bright for the future development of policy, legislation, services and assistance for victims of crime and integration of the victim into the criminal justice system. They are a key element in restorative justice circles. The concept of righting the wrongs done to victims continues to be an important consideration in the courts and their services. Challenges are felt in balancing the rights of the accused versus the rights of the victims, in adequate financial resources for victim services, whether they are in government or NGOs, and the delivery of services in rural Yukon.

We trust these challenges will be met with a positive response by the government for victims of crime.

Speaker: Are there any further tributes?

Introduction of visitors.


Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I ask all members to please help me welcome the chair of the Yukon Human Rights Commission, Brian MacDonald, and a nominee, Lois Moorcroft, and her husband, Al Pope.


Mr. Cardiff: I would also like to take the opportunity to introduce one of my constituents and just say a few words about him.

Lois' husband, Al Pope, is in the gallery today and I would like to make note that he and Yukon writers Erling Friis-Baastad, Patricia Robertson and Peter Steele are all going to be reading at the Whitehorse Public Library this evening at 7 p.m. It is an event that is part of Live Words Yukon Writers Festival.

Speaker: Are there any other introductions of visitors?

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?


Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I have for tabling today the Yukon Lottery Commission Annual Report, 2004-05.

Speaker: Are there any reports of committees?

Are there any petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Are there any notices of motion?


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

THAT it is the opinion of this House that

(1) Yukon communities outside Whitehorse have a right to expect support from the territorial government to develop stable, sustainable economies capable of providing meaningful jobs and economic opportunities for their citizens;

(2) the Government of Yukon continues to be the largest employer in the territory;

(3) the distribution of Yukon government jobs does not always work to the best advantage of rural communities;

(4) improvements in communications technology throughout the Yukon make it possible for many government jobs to be decentralized without diminishing the quality of services provided; and

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to explore opportunities to decentralize more Government of Yukon jobs to rural communities in accordance with the following principles:

(a) that no existing government employee shall be compelled to relocate from his or her current place of employment or suffer any adverse effect on his or her employment for not doing so;

(b) that, with full regard to existing collective agreements between the Government of Yukon and its employee groups, qualified residents of the community or region where a new Yukon government job is to be created will be given special hiring consideration for such a position wherever possible;

(c) current Yukon government employees and their bargaining units will be fully consulted and given the opportunity to be directly involved in developing any decentralization protocols or policies and in determining goals and timelines for increasing the number of Yukon government jobs that will be created in rural communities.

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

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to immediately create a Yukon nurse mentoring program in collaboration with the Yukon Registered Nurses Association.

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

THAT Porter Creek Secondary School has made representations regarding staffing, the school structure and the learning environment at the school;

THAT other Whitehorse area high schools are also experiencing challenges; and

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to constitute a non-partisan, independent task force to examine the needs and current capabilities of continuing to deliver quality high school education in Whitehorse to Yukoners.

I give notice of the following motion:

THAT this House urges the minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation, in order to ensure peace during this spring when many eyes are on television screens throughout regulation play and double overtimes, to take all reasonable precautions to ensure that random squirrels do not cause any further power outages during the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?

Is there a statement by minister?

This then brings us to Question Period.


Question re: Government employee positions outside Whitehorse

Mrs. Peter:   I have a question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. Will the minister tell the House how many permanent or term Yukon government positions outside Whitehorse have remained unfilled for the past three months or longer?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:  Mr. Speaker, with respect to the member opposite's question, I don't have those figures at my fingertips. We do our utmost to provide jobs in many - all - of our communities. As the leader of the official opposition mentioned in his motion earlier, we do respect the collective agreement, and we work within that agreement.

Mrs. Peter: Most community health centres require two full-time nurses that are given one full-time and one auxiliary. Dawson City needs four or five permanent nurses. They have two and sometimes one. There are many other examples, which I have already provided. My community of Old Crow needs a permanent social worker. Other communities have demonstrated need for permanent or term emergency medical attendants. Rural communities are not getting the consistent level of services they deserve, and they're missing out on valuable jobs that would help keep their communities viable.

Why is the government reluctant to fill or to create full-time positions in communities outside Whitehorse when the benefits of doing so are obvious?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: In answer to the Member for Vuntut Gwitchin, I'd like to make her aware that we are attempting to hire for some positions within communities. As I've mentioned in the past and as we've discussed on the floor, there has been a consistent issue for many years. It's difficult to find full-time, permanent employees to staff some of the nursing positions in communities, and thus we are forced to cover those with auxiliary positions. That is not what we would prefer, but we need to attract the people who are willing to fill those positions before we can do so, and that is one of the greatest challenges that faces my department.

With regard to the issue of the social worker in Old Crow, I would simply state to the member opposite that the staffing level in the situation in Old Crow has been the case since the mid-1990s. If there is an issue with that that the First Nation government would like to discuss and has concerns with, I would be more than happy to have officials sit down with them and discuss the situation.

Mrs. Peter: Health and Social Services is not the only place where this government is failing to meet community needs. Another area where community-based jobs are being left unfilled, scaled back or even cut is in Highways and Public Works. At the grader station in Carmacks, the one mechanic is gone; in Teslin, the full-time mechanic is now half-time; and Eagle Plains is down to one mechanic. Haines Junction and Watson Lake each have only one mechanic where there used to be three. Even one job in our small communities makes a great difference to its economy.

Will the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission explain why these personnel cutbacks are necessary and how they serve the economy of rural Yukon ?

Hon. Mr. Hart: We are working through the Department of Highways and Public Works on all issues with regard to skilled labour. The member opposite touched base on the issue of mechanics. It's difficult for us to fill some of these spots but we are currently in the process of doing so.

Question re: Economic development in communities

Mr. Hardy: During my visits throughout rural Yukon, one consistent theme keeps coming up, and that is the need for jobs and economic opportunities at the community level, whether it's in Dawson City, Teslin, Mayo, Beaver Creek, Carmacks, Carcross - name the community. Yukoners feel the impact of their young families moving to Whitehorse or outside the territory to get decent jobs to support themselves. When the Premier was in opposition, Mr. Speaker, he was a strong advocate of regional economic committees to tackle this problem. Can the Minister of Economic Development explain why he considers trade junkets to China a higher priority than community economic development in rural Yukon ?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Rural economic development certainly is involved when mines and other facilities come on line, such as railway and pipeline and such. A very large bulk of those positions will be within the communities, so trips to promote the Yukon are certainly very valuable in representing the Yukon and to represent what we have to offer and to bring back ideas and support. Working in isolation, Mr. Speaker, is not something we consider a good choice.

Mr. Hardy: Obviously the Economic Development minister operates economics by hope and prayer. We have heard this week how this government fails to promote local businesses, with the obvious exception of the Premier's riding. Even today we have heard about government positions in rural Yukon being left unfilled, which takes more money out of the local economy. After nearly four years of promising economic stimulus, where are the tangible benefits outside Whitehorse? They don't exist, Mr. Speaker. Capital projects like a bridge and a new health facility in Dawson, the school in Carmacks, the Mayo community centre and the seniors facility in Haines Junction have either been delayed, altered or are totally abandoned. Badly needed jobs in construction and in providing public services simply have not materialized out there.

Why has this minister, and the Minister of Community Services, failed to recognize the desire of Yukon communities to develop stable and sustainable local economies?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: Again for the member opposite, through the various missions and meetings we've been able to continue to establish relationships that are bringing - and will very soon bring - some very major investments into the Yukon , much of which will go into the communities. I certainly invite the member opposite to review the job postings throughout the communities that are there - both government and private sector. I'm glad that the member is getting out more and touring rural Yukon , but he should notice what is going on out there. There is a resurgence. It is not as advanced as in Whitehorse , and that's a challenge that we're addressing on a daily basis, but our very aggressive regional economic development section has distributed, for instance, $178,000 so far through Yukon communities this year to assist with capacity development and regional economic development planning. We've committed a further $120,000 into the communities to do this.

Again, I'm very pleased that the member opposite is getting out more.

Mr. Hardy: I'd recommend he get out as well. Maybe I can help the minister. For starters, I recommend that he look at his own department's Web site. He'll find a 40-page document there, A New Direction: Building a Sustainable and Competitive Yukon Economy, and I challenge the minister to find more than one or two references to Yukon communities outside  Whitehorse . I challenge him to find a single example of how his department is working with municipalities or regions to develop their local economies. In fact, I defy him to find anything that demonstrates that Yukon communities are a priority for this government. He won't find it, because it just isn't in that document. How does the minister expect to build a sustainable and competitive Yukon economy without rural communities being front and centre in this process?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: The document, A New Direction: Building a Sustainable and Competitive Yukon Economy, has been out for, I believe, some two years. I'm very pleased that he finally got around to reading it. In terms of our investments into rural Yukon, we have several mines that are on the verge of opening and will be making decisions - or have already made decisions - over the summer that will bring fairly major investment and fairly major employment into the communities.

The branch also works with two - particularly the First Nation governments - to embark on an economic planning exercise. There has been a total of $260,000 budgeted in 2006-07 for the two projects: $130,000 for work with the Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in and $130,000 for the Kluane First Nation.

We also administer the regional economic development fund to some $450,000. Maximum eligible funding for single application is $50,000 with no more than 75 percent coming from Yukon government sources and at least 15 percent contribution of total project cost funded by the proponent.

With these sorts of budgets, we are giving a high priority to working in the communities and we will continue to do that. I would encourage the member opposite to read our documents a little more frequently.

Question re: Discover Yukon publication

Mr. Mitchell:  I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development about a little piece of propaganda that arrived in every Yukoner's mailbox this week. This was a piece that had useful information about the average temperature in Whitehorse, the population of the Yukon in 2002, the Yukon's GDP in 2003, and the amount of freshwater in the Yukon. It also contained information about the mining industry.

This was clearly designed as an information piece for potential investors who live outside the Yukon . However, someone in the Cabinet office decided to send this to every home in the Yukon. Can the minister tell the House how much this cost the taxpayer and who gave the political direction to send out this Yukon Party pre-election propaganda?

Unparliamentary language

Speaker: Before the honourable member answers the question, the term “propaganda” is not appropriate for this Legislative Assembly. I would ask the honourable member not to use that.

Honourable minister, you have the floor.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: It certainly is not propaganda, and I certainly don't think that the member -

 Speaker: Let's not talk about this, all right? The terminology is not acceptable on either side of the floor.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: That sounds more than reasonable, Mr. Speaker.

On this side of the floor, we deal with people on a daily basis who claim we are secretive, that we don't share what is going on in the Yukon with the Yukon public and with members opposite, when that information is shared and put out so people can understand what the government is doing and what the private sector is doing, because that was mostly what the private sector is doing. I am sure the member opposite isn't suggesting that giving statistics on the average temperature is a statement from any political persuasion. It is informing the public of what is going on in this territory. I hope the member opposite isn't suggesting that we should not do that.

Mr. Mitchell:  I don't believe the minister answered the question. We asked what the cost was. The fact is that this piece was obviously targeted to a different audience but was then added on to and sent to every Yukoner. There is good news, sure. The Yukon Liberal Party has a long history of supporting the mining industry too. What we don't support, because we are wasting taxpayers' money, is mailing this piece out to every Yukoner. If the Yukon Party government wants to highlight its support for mining, the Yukon Party should pay for it, not the Yukon taxpayers.

This piece was sent to 13,000 households in the Yukon. This brochure, which I will file for the benefit of members, in case they didn't get theirs yet, is called Discover Yukon. It also promoted several mining companies doing business in the Yukon.

My question for the minister is this: since he talks about the private sector, how much did these companies contribute to be included in this brochure?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I am certainly well aware, as the member opposite suggests, that other political parties have done things over the various seasons, so to speak, to promote economic development. I still have to scratch my head over why the previous Liberal government, the shortest lived majority government in the history of the Commonwealth, saw that the best way to promote economic development was to abolish, to collapse, to close, to curb, to cut down - whatever you want to say, Mr. Speaker, before we get into the semantics - to basically cancel and close the Department of Economic Development. I still question that; that does not show a good interest in economic development. But I am certainly glad to see that the member opposite is rekindling that interest.

Mr. Mitchell:  Mr. Speaker, I've had several calls from Yukoners who are angry that the government is wasting their money, and the minister is making it worse by refusing to say how has been spent. If the Yukon Party wants to pat itself on the back about mining, they can do that, but they shouldn't be asking taxpayers to foot the bill. This was clearly a piece that was designed for Outside investors; however, someone in the Cabinet office decided to send this to everyone in the Yukon on the taxpayers' nickel. Who made the decision and how much did it cost to produce and send out? It is a very simple question.

Hon. Mr. Kenyon: While I don't have that information in front of me at the moment, I will certainly be happy to provide it. I do know that a significant portion of that did not come from the government.

Again, the member opposite, whose party completely extinguished the Department of Economic Development - they finished it, they completely closed the Department of Economic Development, and saw that this was a way to develop the economy. It scares me, Mr. Speaker, that this might be something that we could look forward to in the future.

I think Yukoners want to develop the economy and they want to know what is happening to do that. We are happy to get that information out to them. You can't complain that there is no information forthcoming and then, when it is, complain that it is. Perhaps the member opposite could make up his mind on that.

Question re: Group home, new construction

Ms. Duncan: In the 2005-06 main estimates, the Department of Health and Social Services budgeted $809,000 for a new group home that we learned through the media this week was to be constructed in cooperation with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation. Although the former minister never told us that part, he did repeatedly reassure me in this House on several occasions that the project was currently underway.

Taking that statement at face value, I was shocked in this year's main estimates to see that that project is now $50,000. Where did the $759,000 go? What happened to the money? What happened to the home? What, if anything, is the minister doing to address the issues associated with the construction of the group home?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: In answer to the Member for Porter Creek South regarding the group home, when I took over this position the planning was not quite to the stage where we could implement it. The money that's identified is planning dollars and it would be constructed at a future time.

Ms. Duncan: Mr. Speaker, those answers are completely unacceptable. The previous minister said to me on at least two occasions that the project was underway. This minister is saying that is not, in fact, the case. This was a facility to be built in Kwanlin Dun in cooperation with Yukon's largest First Nation. There are pressing issues involving our youth, involving the construction of this group home.

Under the Yukon Party, this initiative has completely ground to a halt - so much for “Together we will do better”.

Has the minister had any discussions with Kwanlin Dun First Nation concerning a new facility? Why has this project come so badly off the rails in the last couple of years under the Yukon Party?

Hon. Mr. Cathers:   Prior to my time here as minister, it was a concept with regard to the member's recollection of statements made to her by the previous minister. I don't recall what statements he may have made, and she should discuss that with him. I'm telling her the way the situation is right here, right now. Prior to my time as Health minister, it was a concept - we are doing the planning. The planning has to be done. The facility will be constructed at some point in the future, but we are not anywhere close to being able to construct it in this construction year because the planning has to be done first. I would remind the member opposite that, across the construction spectrum, the demand for workers right now is so high that one of the greatest challenges being experienced with various projects is the demand for workers. It's not feasible to do everything in this fiscal year.

Ms. Duncan: I'm advising the current Minister of Health and Social Services that the previous minister told me, on more than one occasion, that this money was being spent and the project was underway. This week the local media reported that the Chief of Kwanlin Dun - the largest First Nation in the territory - said that upon the departure of the previous minister, commitments completely fell away. The chief reported that he had not even met with the new minister. He couldn't get past - he used the term - “the minister's gatekeeper”.

Could the minister explain to the House what has happened? The previous minister said that the project was underway, and the Chief of Kwanlin Dun has said that he can't even get in to talk to the minister. I'll ask the question immediately, Mr. Speaker.

What happened to the money for the group home? Where is it? What did it get spent on, and what solutions does he have to address the issues?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: In answer to the Member for Porter Creek South, at this point if we were to allocate $800,000 in this year's budget for the planning and construction of the group home the member opposite is talking about, the majority of it would be revoted.  For that reason, we have booked the money that we expect to spend - that being $50,000. We are certainly prepared to move forward on this, but we do need to do the planning work. I would invite the Chief of Kwanlin Dun to contact my office. I am happy to sit down with him. If there have been miscommunications at some point, that's unfortunate, and we are prepared to move forward from that.

I note for the member opposite that the issue at hand with regard to claims she makes of what the previous minister said to her - that's an issue between her and him. I am telling her the situation as it is today. I review the files today, and we are moving forward in many areas, including providing increases in investment in health and social services across the board. We are advancing into new areas such as funding Autism Yukon; we are providing them with their first annual funding. We're providing bridge funding for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon. We're purchasing three new ambulances in this fiscal year and moving forward on construction.

Question re:     Tourism brand

Mr. Jenkins: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Branding is extremely important to Yukon's visitor industry, and over the years progressively improved brands have been developed, with the best one of them being “Yukon, Canada's True North”. This brand does an excellent job of identifying the Yukon with Canada and with the north. Currently, not one of the individuals with whom I have spoken, who earns their living directly in the visitor industry and understands marketing, can make any sense whatsoever out of the new brand, “Larger than Life”. It is the mark of a true government to show leadership and admit that a mistake has been made. Will the minister stand down on this brand change?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:  Since inception, the Yukon Party government has taken great pride in garnering and forging ahead with the very strong partnership with industry, specifically the senior marketing committee that is part of the Yukon Tourism Marketing Partnership that falls under the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon. It was the senior marketing committee that is comprised of individuals who hold marketing expertise across the territory that identified the development and implementation of the Yukon tourism brand strategy as a key priority.

We listened; we have come through. The whole “Larger than Life” tourism brand is new. It is accepted by industry, and we are very appreciative of their efforts and stand behind them.

Mr. Jenkins: I have spoken with a considerable number of individuals in the industry in Canada and in the United States . The U.S. is Yukon's principal market. They all knew of “Yukon, Canada's True North”, and they knew of the “Home of the Klondike”. They knew those brands.

I asked their reaction to changing Yukon's brand to “Larger than Life”, and their responses, without exception, were all negative. Time does not permit me to share all the responses, but let me share two of them from the U.S.

“‘Larger than Life' brings up the image of Texas to me, not the Yukon.”

“What are you trying to market now? A porno site?”

If the minister is determined to develop a new brand -

Unparliamentary language

Speaker: Order. That's entirely inappropriate and the member full well knows that. I'm very tempted to just stop your questions right now, but I will allow you to carry on.

Mr. Jenkins: If the minister is determined to develop a new brand, will the minister show leadership and test-market a new brand first?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:  That's exactly what the Department of Tourism and Culture, in conjunction with the senior marketing committee did. In fact, the actual “Larger than Life” brand that was proposed and accepted by the senior marketing committee was passed by a number of individuals through focus tests: 1,700 individuals across the country, across North America, and in our key international markets were surveyed. Of those 1,700 individuals, compared to the two people that the Member for Klondike surveyed - over 84 percent of those surveyed were in strong, overwhelming support.

Again, Mr. Speaker, who are you going to believe? The Member for Klondike or the senior marketing committee who represents industry across the Yukon?

Speaker's statement

Speaker: Now, before the honourable member answers - Minister of Tourism, it is not in the realm of this Legislative Assembly to challenge the veracity of a member, so I would ask you not to do that.

You have the floor, Member for Klondike, and I caution you.

Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Brands are only good for five years. Change is good. These are but two of the clichés used by ad agencies in the multi-million-dollar industry worldwide in which the Yukon is but a bit player. If the minister is determined to implement a new brand for Yukon. I ask that the job be done right and the results be in the best interests of Yukoners and our visitor industry.

Will the minister agree to immediately stop implementing this new brand, task a new group in the Department of Tourism along with industry representatives, along with perhaps a new ad agency - a local one, I would hope - and build on Yukon strengths - our current brand, Yukon, Canada's True North,.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:  Again for the Member for Klondike, I will give a brief recollection of how the brand was developed and implemented. We took the lead from industry. We have great confidence in the abilities of industry - that is private sector, individuals representing industry, with a great amount of marketing expertise.

Over 10 months of research was conducted. A wealthy amount of information came forward toward the development of the brand strategy that led us to the “Larger than Life” slogan tag line, and that's not all. It will be implemented through all our marketing campaigns, and we encourage the rest of the Yukon to adopt the slogan and the brand in their entirety.

We will do no such thing. In fact, we will stand behind industry, and we will implement the brand strategy accordingly to its fullest possible implementation. In fact, we have identified $200,000 toward the full implementation of the brand, executing it in all our marketing campaigns from here on out.

Over 3,000 individuals were consulted throughout the entire Yukon. After the “Larger than Life” brand did come up, it was passed by 1,700 individuals, of which the majority thought it was a great slogan. We are moving ahead with the full implementation of the brand.

Question re: Smoking ban in public places

Mr. Cardiff: Yesterday we learned from a major national study on substance abuse that the impact of tobacco addiction on Canada 's economy in 2002 was a staggering $17 billion. That was the cost to the economy in loss of production and to the health care system. More than 37,000 Canadians died from tobacco use that year. Illness attributable to tobacco accounted for over two million days of hospital acute care.

Given those appalling statistics, why did the Minister of Health and Social Services refuse to support a Yukon-wide ban on smoking in public buildings when he had the chance to do so?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: Again, with regard to the issue of smoking, certainly we are well aware of the costs of this behaviour. It should also be taken into context that there are many behaviours that we as human beings often engage in that are probably not the wisest. One of the greatest costs to the health care system is obesity due to lack of exercise. Most members of society are guilty, to some extent, of not exercising or not eating as well as we should - including me, along with other members in this Assembly. Do we legislate that? Do we tell someone what they have to eat, what they have to do?

The issue of smoking in workplaces is something that the government has implemented. A ban on smoking has been implemented in YTG buildings. The City of Whitehorse has chosen to implement smoking legislation, as has the City of Dawson. Other municipalities have the full ability to do so and have chosen not to.

Mr. Cardiff: All workplaces are not inside municipalities either. We had a golden opportunity a few days ago to take an important step in this Legislature that should have been taken ages ago. We could have passed a law to keep tobacco smoke out of all public places in the Yukon , but the Minister of Health and Social Services and his government colleagues refused. The third party's health critic and his colleagues also refused. Shame on them all, Mr. Speaker. Even a tobacco addict like me recognizes the need to ban smoking in public places. Our whole caucus supports this, so the next time the opportunity arises will the Health and Social Services minister and his colleagues support legislation to outlaw smoking in public buildings throughout the Yukon? Yes or no?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: I would point out again to the Member for Mount Lorne that the ability to ban smoking within workplaces within all municipalities, which is by far the bulk of the workforce, is an option that exists right now for every municipality. The majority have not chosen to do so. One thing that we are concerned about as a government - that we have to take into account - is when municipalities and individuals within communities tell us that they are very concerned about the economic impact of banning smoking within bars within their communities.

We have one former local bar owner in Whitehorse who wrote a letter to the paper noting that the City of Whitehorse's claims that its legislation had not impacted anyone were not correct because he had shut down his bar as a result of Whitehorse's anti-smoking legislation.

I would also remind the member opposite that a law is one thing; enforcing that law is quite another. The member opposite should be well aware that Whitehorse 's smoking legislation is not going so well and that they have had their challenges. We are directing our limited resources to education rather than enforcement, and I firmly believe that educating individuals, assisting them in voluntarily quitting smoking, is far more effective than simply telling people they can't do it, and then trying to stop them.

Mr. Cardiff: The minister should put money where his mouth is. At a recent health care forum held by the leader of the official opposition, there was a clear message that prevention must be our health care priority. The Yukon's medical professionals have called for a territory-wide ban on smoking. Why aren't we responding?

Tomorrow we are going to commemorate Canadian workers who have died or been injured in the workplace. Tobacco use in the workplace causes illnesses and it causes death. Let's not forget those gripping TV messages from Heather Crow, the restaurant server who never smoked, but faced a slow and agonizing death because of the second-hand smoke in her workplace.

For the sake of Yukon workers, for the sake of future generations, will the minister get on board once and for all and help make smoking in public buildings a thing of the past in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: I would point out to the Member for Mount Lorne that we are on board. All YTG workplaces are smoke-free. The member said we should focus on prevention: we are doing exactly that. We are dedicating our resources toward education, the quit-pack initiative and toward targeting young smokers and trying to encourage them first to never becoming a smoker and, second, to breaking their addiction and that cycle.

Just in reference to the member's suggestion that we should have supported the Member for Klondike's private member's bill coming forward the other day, there are a couple of flaws with this legislation, including the references to the Lieutenant Governor. The Member for Klondike may wish to do his proofreading on wherever he copied the legislation from before bringing that legislation to the floor of the House. It does not meet Yukon legal requirements.

To the Member for Mount Lorne, again I would say that there are many activities that Yukoners and all Canadians engage in that may not be the best for our health. We do focus on education and on encouraging people to quit voluntarily. Enforcement only works if you put the resources behind that legislation, and clearly that is not working so well in Whitehorse. Municipalities can make their choices.

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


        Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

        Speaker: The Member for Klondike , on a point of order.

Unanimous consent re Bill No. 110

Mr. Jenkins: Pursuant to Standing Order 14.3, I'm requesting unanimous consent to call Bill No. 110, Yukon Smoke-Free Places Act, at this time.

Speaker: Is there unanimous consent?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Some Hon. Members: Disagreed.  

Speaker: Unanimous consent has been denied.

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of information

Speaker: Member for Klondike, on a point of order.

Mr. Jenkins: I wish to advise the House that, on Monday, May 1 and Tuesday, May 2, I will be pairing with the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources in order that the minister may represent Yukon at a meeting with the federal government.

Speaker: Government motions.


Motion No. 666

Clerk: Motion No. 666, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza.

Speaker: It is moved by the Minister of Justice that the Yukon Legislative Assembly, pursuant to subsection 17(1) of the Human Rights Act, appoint Lois Moorcroft and reappoint John McCormick to be members of the Human Rights Commission.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza:   I would like to recommend the appointment of Lois Moorcroft to the Human Rights Commission. Ms. Moorcroft is a human rights advocate with professional and volunteer experience representing the interests of women, children, seniors, First Nation citizens and working people. She has experience in labour relations from both the union and management points of view and an understanding of discrimination and human rights. Her executive positions have included vice-chair of the Yukon Employment Standards Board, the Yukon Electoral District Boundaries Commission, the Yukon College Employees Union, and the Yukon Federation of Labour.

From 2001 to 2006, she has worked on research and advocacy projects, which addressed homelessness, poverty, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, preventing violence against women, electoral reform, evaluating Inuit policing, developing court-worker training and First Nation constitutional revisions. Ms. Moorcroft's experience, knowledge and understanding would make her an invaluable addition to the Human Rights Commission.

I would also like to recommend the reappointment of John A. McCormick to the Yukon Human Rights Commission, who, unfortunately, was not able to attend today. Since his retirement from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1977, Mr. McCormick has presided as a justice of the peace in Whitehorse and in Teslin. He has held executive positions with the Yukon College Advisory Committee, Teslin campus, the south and central Yukon property assessment review boards, and the Capability and Consent Board. He has also received training in administrative law, principles of natural justice, conducting fair hearings, restorative justice, conflict resolution, and training in connection with his justice of the peace duties.

Mr. McCormick's reappointment would continue to contribute his experience, awareness and commitment of the work of the Yukon Human Rights Commission.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called.


Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you 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.

Mrs. Peter: Agree.

Mr. Cardiff: Agree.

Mr. Mitchell:  Agree.

Ms. Duncan: Agree.

Mr. McRobb: Agree.

Mr. Jenkins:          Agree.

Mr. Fairclough: Agree.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 17 yea, nil nay.

Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.

Motion No. 666 agreed to


Bill No. 19: Second Reading

Clerk: Second reading, Bill No.19, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 19, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now read a second time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 19, entitled Third Appropriation Act, 2005-06, be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I rise to introduce on second reading the Supplementary Estimate No. 2 for 2005-06. Bill No. 19 represents the third appropriation for the fiscal year. The total sums required in this appropriation, as outlined in Schedule A of the act, is $10,112,000.

The sums not required are $8.844 million, for a net overall increase of $1.268 million. O&M requirements are $2.279 million. Sums not required are $793,000. Capital increases sought are $7.8 million and decreases are $8 million. Offsetting sums not required for the net O&M increase sought is $1.486 million and the net capital sought is a reduction of $218,000.

This supplementary budget is required to deal with additional departmental funding requirements that have arisen since the fall 2005 session of this Legislature. This supplementary budget also affords me the opportunity to update the Legislature and the public on the government's forecast financial position for the year-end 2005-06.

This end of year budget also sets the stage for the 2006-07 main estimates.

The budget that is before you forecasts total government revenues of $777.8 million and expenditures of $818.7 million. Once the effect and the change in tangible capital assets, plus forecast lapses for the year-end, are taken into account, the Department of Finance is forecasting an annual surplus for the year of just under $38 million. This summary is outlined more fully on page S-1 of the budget document.

This annual surplus is an improvement from the fall supplementary budget and is forecast to come in at just under the $42.6-million mark that was forecast in the original 2005-06 main estimates. The net impact of this forecast will result in an accumulated surplus of just over $451 million for the year ended March 31, 2006. The net financial resources for the year-end are projected to increase from the $23 million forecast in the first supplementary to approximately $34 million.

Mr. Speaker, I should remind the Legislature that the net financial resources at the end of 2005-06 were projected to be somewhat higher in the original main estimates, but that was before we determined that the government had to book additional post-employment benefits for public servants, MLAs and judges. Once these amounts had been booked and verified by audit, the net financial resources for the beginning of the year were restated to the $48-million threshold.

I will now speak to some of the other budgetary changes that are reflected in this supplementary. We will start with revenues. Territorial revenues have declined by about $2.8 million, with the largest decrease in corporate income tax of $3.6 million, offset in part by a $1.4-million increase to investment revenue. The corporate taxes have declined due to a one-time preferred dividend tax credit of the $1.5-million mark, accompanied with an increased uptake on the mineral tax credit.

I think it's fair to say this is an incentive-driven tax measure that is definitely paying dividends for the Yukon, considering the significant increase in uptake in mining investment in today's Yukon .

The investment revenues have certainly increased on a moderate basis in interest rates as well as an increase in cash surplus available for investment purposes. In fact, we are predicting a cash position of about $80 million to $90 million for year-end at March 31, 2006. This is a tremendous improvement from where we were at the end of 2003, when the government reported a year-end cash position of about $1 million.

Gas revenues are also down in this budget by about $2.5 million, which is in large part a reduction due to an overly optimistic forecast at the beginning of the fiscal year. On the recoveries side of the ledger, total transfers have increased. The largest component of this increase is $13.3 million for the northern strategy trust, which is one-third of the $40 million allocated under this trust.

Accounting rules require that these amounts be taken into income over the period the trust is in effect. You will see that a similar amount will be reflected in the 2006-07 budget, along with the other expenditures. Both the revenues and expenditures from the trust are reflected in the long-term fiscal framework.

On the O&M expenditures side of the budget, several departments are reflecting increased expenditures and a few are reflecting some declines. The largest increase is in the Department of Finance, with a request for $1.08 million to fund the energy rebate program. This program was approved by an amendment to the Income Tax Act last fall.

In February, a special warrant was approved to allow for the early processing of payments in advance of this supplementary appropriation being approved by the House. That was a prudent decision to allow funds to flow to those most in need and flow as soon as possible.

At this time, claims submitted and processed for this program exceed 4,500 and a further 2,900 are expected.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the staff in the Department of Finance and revenue services who developed and implemented this program on such a very short notice, and to the individuals in Finance processing the payments. Turnaround time from receipt of application to issuance of the cheque to clients is generally less than one week.

Capital expenditures show a net decline of $218,000, which is largely due to capital projects that have not proceeded quite as quickly as anticipated. Ministers will be able to speak to these changes as they affect their departments in general and line-by-line budget debates.

There is also one large increase of $5 million shown in the capital budget of the Department of Highways and Public Works. This amount is for the Shakwak project and is offset by an equivalent recovery.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your indulgence. I look forward to debating this supplementary budget in general debate here in the House.

Mr. Hardy:    My comments will be very brief. As usual, I always have concerns on how this government has brought forward budgets. The use of special warrants, of course, has always been a concern. I don't think I've ever seen a government use special warrants in the manner this government has. Definitely it is unprecedented. Special warrants have a specific use and I think this government has taken advantage of that. I just want to put that on record.

The increase of revenue from the federal government of $12.6 million, a decrease of $2.873 million from the territorial government, an increase in recoveries of $3.245 million, all point toward a government that once again relies extremely heavily on federal transfers. Revenues generated in the territory have not gone up; they have actually gone down. I've already discussed this, Mr. Speaker, and that's why I am not going to go on at length. When we go back to the budget that is before the House during this spring sitting, we will talk more about that, of course. That's the one we are looking at more particularly.

It just indicates that this is a current pattern of this government in that it relies more and more on the federal government to bring revenues into the Yukon . Less and less we are seeing territorial revenues being generated.

I went through a long list of that. I looked at the percentages and how, under this government, the percentages have continued to grow, and the reliance on the federal government for transfers has continued to grow. I'm sure we'll talk more about that later and also how the government books its O&M and capital expenditures. How they're laid out for the public is a concern and does not necessarily present a valid picture of what is actually a capital expenditure and what is O&M. I would recommend that the government take that seriously and look at ways to find a better method to portray that.

I have questions and concerns. There are also questions and concerns that will be brought up in the 2006-07 budget, and that's probably where I'm going to keep them. I do have concerns about Dawson's financial picture and what we can anticipate coming forward before June 15. Will we know what money is being spent in regard to dealing with the financial difficulties Dawson is in before we leave the Legislative Assembly? I hope we will. That would be an open and accountable move on the government's part. I'm not sure if that's actually going to happen.

I also wouldn't mind knowing what the cost has been to date of the trustees this government has employed in the Dawson situation, as well as others who have been hired by government to deal with this issue, including audited reports and any other reports that have been done in regard to the Dawson situation.

There are also concerns in regard to the spending habits of this government for the communities. Today my colleague from Old Crow and I spoke at length and questioned the spending in the communities, as well as the employment positions in the communities.

Looking at the budget and trying to figure that out is not an easy task, but we are going to continue along that line. Even looking at the spending of 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2006-07 in the community distribution definitely shows some patterns. We will be going more in-depth around that as well.

As I said, I have concerns about oil and gas revenue being down, as the Finance minister indicated, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this. We have a lot more to debate, and it's the money that we are going to be looking at spending in the 2006-07 budget.

I will allow the leader of the third party to participate in this now.

Mr. Mitchell: I, too, will be fairly brief. This wrap-up from last year is largely housekeeping. Many decisions have been made since these accounts were put to bed that will change these figures, in any case. I have already previously raised in debate - as has the leader of the official opposition - our concern about the continued use of special warrants. I don't think it's a good approach. Nobody questions that it's a permissible approach, but rather that it shows a certain lack of respect for the tradition of trying to bring spending forward - unless there are extraordinary circumstances - in a manner in which the elected members can approve it, rather than after the fact.

In terms of other things, I would still point out that the Finance minister has indicated his belief of a sad state of affairs when he took office. I would point out that this budget continues the pattern that this Yukon Party government has followed over the last three years. They have taken what was a $70-million surplus and spent it down to $15 million during their time in office, in terms of net financial assets. This is despite massive increases from the federal government to the Yukon. We now get some $200 million more per year than we did just five years ago, yet the amounts left at the end of the year are getting smaller and smaller, so there's certainly a pattern there. It's quite an ironic one, since this Finance minister previously stood up and said the considerably smaller budgets we had seen in the past were unsustainable, yet he has done nothing but increase them.

        There are some specific questions, not a whole lot, but I'll lay some of them out and perhaps the Finance minister can either answer them or get back to me with answers. The $3.14 million in land development costs under Executive Council Office - which appears to be a new item - what is that money for?

In Education there is a $2.4-million lapse for Teslin school renovations and the new gym. This money does not appear to be in the current year's budget either, so what's the status of that project? Perhaps the Education minister can outline that when we discuss that department.

In Environment, for the Tombstone Park interpretive centre, there is a lapse of $900,000. I'm uncertain what the status of the project is, because it's listed in this year's tendering forecast as being $2 million, but it's not listed in this year's budget speech. Is this project going ahead or not? It lapsed last year; we now see there's a tender for it.

Community Services lapsed $2.9 million for the Canada strategic infrastructure fund. Which projects didn't go forward? Can the government provide a list?

In Highways and Public Works, the minister has mentioned the $5 million additional spending for Shakwak, and we're certainly happy about that, but it does come from the Americans and fits in with this government's strategy of trying to create jobs by spending other people's money. We still don't see the real plans for diversification.

In Health and Social Services, the $2.3-million lapse for Watson Lake's continuing care facility - the government spent this winter trying to figure out how to fix the mistakes made by the previous Health and Social Services minister, and no progress seems to have been made on this building. We think this project has been botched from the start, and the minister has been unwilling to tell us when the project will be finished and how much it will cost. As we know, this project is woefully overbudget. I am looking forward to seeing that building when I attend Association of Yukon Communities' annual general meeting in Watson Lake this weekend.

I would like to point something out that I know the Premier, the Finance minister, is aware of. I think he should be clarifying with the new Minister of Health and Social Services, who is apparently still on the learner's permit section of the licence, that we are not interested in responses to questions that say, “You have to ask the former Health and Social Services minister these questions,” - which is what we heard during Question Period today - who is now sitting as a private member.

Cabinet speaks with one voice, and the decisions of government - and I understand this to be a fairly fundamental principle - that are made and announced by government are the decisions of government, not an individual. I am somewhat surprised when there is a question asked about policy, to hear a response that says, “Well, he's not the minister any more. We have had a revolving door, so we don't answer the question. Go stop him in the street and ask him the question.” That is not appropriate. You can't continue to replace ministers and say, “For everything that was said before, we now have a do-over.” I have a concern with that answer, and I hope that we won't be getting that answer again.

I still have concerns over some other examples of what has happened on this government's watch. The athletes village, which has grown from $3 million to $33 million, seems to be overbudget and mismanaged. We previously challenged the Premier and the minister responsible to call in the Auditor General to look at what went wrong under this government's watch, and they have refused to do that.

The Dawson health centre. How much money has been wasted on this project to date, because we still have no new health centre? We are still trying to do a thorough job of planning on it. It has been planned and re-planned, and I guess it's going to be planned again.

The Carmacks school has gone from $8 million to $11.4 million.

The amounts of spending for Dawson City are unknown, so we'll have further questions for the department. We do notice that there has been some $400,000 spent on repairs and maintenance of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, and we still don't have a new centre. We are still patching the tires on that one, which I think is unfortunate.

That's the approach we are taking.

At this point, that's all I have for the minister.

Speaker: If the Hon. Premier speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: It's always very encouraging to listen to the members opposite and experience their grasp of the finances of the territory. It certainly is encouraging because, given their statements - not all statements, but many of their statements - with respect to the supplementary budget and virtually any and all fiscal issues of the territory, one would hope that the finances of this wonderful territory of ours and the finances as they have improved to date so significantly never fall into the hands of the members opposite.

I want to begin by making some points on why that is. When we listen to the leader of the third party talk about leaving a $70-million surplus, this is a travesty for the leader of the third party to even put that on the table here in the Legislative Assembly. The facts don't bear that out. Quite the contrary. The facts will show as accounted -

Some Hon. Member: Point of order.

Point of order

Speaker: Member for Porter Creek South, on a point of order.

Ms. Duncan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier during Question Period, in response to a comment that was made, you noted that it was not up to any of us to question the veracity of another member's speech. I believe that the Premier, in his exuberance to defend, is questioning the veracity of the leader of the third party's comments regarding the $70-million surplus. To refer to it as a “travesty” and suggest the facts don't bear that out could be considered to be a dispute between members, whether that is a fact or not, but to suggest something other than what the members believe and say that is a travesty is to question the veracity of another member. Earlier in Question Period you cautioned us against doing that.

Speaker: Member for Lake Laberge, on the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Cathers: I believe the Premier was questioning the quality of the research that had gone into the leader of the third party compiling his claims in the House. The Premier was debating the accuracy of the facts, not the intent of the member bringing it forward, and I would submit to you, for that reason, it is a dispute between members.

Speaker's ruling

Speaker: The Chair's perspective is that obviously each side has a perspective and they are different. However, I don't feel there is a point of order.

So, Hon. Premier, you have the floor.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I do recognize what the Member for Porter Creek South is trying to articulate. None of us should question the veracity of any member in this House. What I am saying in correcting the record is the $70-million surplus the leader of the third party makes reference to was not left by the former Liberal government. We know that because it's clear on the year-end of that particular fiscal year, as audited by the Auditor General, that that is not the case. We went through the elements of why that is days ago in this House. I will touch on some of those realities.

When coming into office, we were faced with a situation where the government of the day was actually paying overcharges to pay for employees' wages and to deliver programs and services. We had to do something and that's exactly what we did. We began collapsing funds - millions and millions of dollars of these funds the former government thought were economic instruments, by squirreling money somewhere. We collapsed those funds.

That was important because those were hard decisions that had to be made. We as a government took a different view. Squirreling the money away in funds that were not contributing to stimulating the Yukon economy, but were contributing to the exodus of people and double-digit unemployment numbers - some of the highest unemployment we've ever experienced - was not the course to take, so we changed course. We collapsed those funds. That contributed to the year-end surplus.

Mr. Speaker, the $34 million plus of increased transfer from Canada was due to a census that we had undertaken, making the case with Canada that they owed us money - they owed us money, Mr. Speaker. So, for the leader of the third party to make the claim that they've left the territory with a $70-million surplus - the point I made earlier was this: let us hope that the finances of this territory do not fall into their hands because they simply have missed what really transpires in fiscal management.

Furthermore, the leader of the third party has just stated again that the college facilities, student residences and affordable housing units have gone overbudget. He claims the original budget to be somewhere between $2.8 million and $3 million. There is no such thing, Mr. Speaker. The budget for the student residences and affordable housing units on the college precincts are well known. We are in the $30-million range. That was said publicly and in this House. It had nothing to do with what the member is talking about.

Furthermore, the numbers the member uses are host society numbers that were an original bid for the Canada Winter Games. The member well knows that the host society cancelled any and all proposals in that regard and came to the government for assistance to deal with this issue. We have dealt with it, and I am very pleased to say, 12 months later, when there wasn't even a mark or a footprint on the ground - no designer plan, nothing happening with respect to this project - we are now embarking on the finishing phase. That's a testimony not only to fiscal management. That's a tremendous work effort and shows the talent of Yukon workers and contractors who are on the site today. I am very, very proud of what they have accomplished with respect to this very time-sensitive project.

The member has openly in his statements criticized all those hard-working Yukoners, Yukon contractors, by saying that they're not capable, that they went and mushroomed this project by some $20 million. That's the point we are making.

Some Hon. Member: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Point of order

Speaker: The Member for Copperbelt, on a point of order.

Mr. Mitchell:  I made no such reference to any of the workers or any of the employees. I questioned the financial stewardship and management of the government. I made no reference to the quality of the work or the efforts or the good intentions of the workers, and I don't believe that that should be said or put into the record.

Speaker: The Member for Lake Laberge, on the point of order.

Hon. Mr. Cathers: I would remind the leader of the third party that this is not the opportunity for members to engage in debate during the portion of their speech - the comments made by the leader of the third party on his point of order. There is no point of order. It is merely a dispute between members. He has a different opinion than the Premier does, and I would urge you to rule in accordance with that.

Speaker's statement

Speaker: The Chair reserves the right to review the Blues. I understand the point the leader of the third party is making. I also understand the position of the government House leader. I would like the opportunity to review the Blues.

You have the floor, Hon. Premier.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: Just to continue, I'm sure this side of the House could stand up on dozens of points of order with respect to debate that's ongoing from the members opposite. We choose not to, but, in rebuttal, a correction of the record must take place and we must do so by trying to encapsulate all the equation that's relevant to the issue being discussed, and that's all this side of the House is doing.

This is a supplementary budget closing out a year-end that shows the fiscal position of the territory is indeed very healthy. As I pointed out, there are millions of dollars of year-end surplus in this supplementary budget. Let's look back to the members opposite - governments of the past - when there were annual deficits, when there was - the leader of the official opposition points out, not presenting a valid picture - year in and year out qualified audits because the government of the day was not reporting or booking its full liabilities, and some of those liabilities pertained to employee benefits.

These are the points that are critical to the fiscal management of the territory. So for any member on that side of the House to say that we are not presenting a clear, transparent and valid picture of the territory's finances is now challenging the Auditor General's office, because it's the Auditor General who has clearly determined that the finances of the Yukon Territory today are in excellent shape, that we are fully reporting all our revenues, liabilities and expenditures and are no longer receiving qualified audits in this territory. These are important points in debate and that is why we must rebut, as we do.

When the leader of the official opposition talks about revenues going down - as I related in my opening speech, the examples of that are due to the mineral exploration tax credit and the small business tax credit. We are taking revenues and turning them around immediately and putting them back out into the hands and pockets of Yukon businesses so they can invest them here in the territory. What is that doing? That is creating growth - growth in the private sector. For the members opposite to make the claim that this territory is only increasing its dependence on the federal government, they are showing a complete misunderstanding of what is going on fiscally in terms of private sector growth territory-wide.

I challenge the members to explain, if that is the case, why then is this core value that we hold so dear nationally a part of what each and every jurisdiction, province or territory receives from the federal government? That core value, Mr. Speaker, is the fair sharing of the national wealth. The view of the members opposite is that, for some reason, the only thing going on here is federal expenditure. Why should the territory be precluded from our fair share based on that core value? That's the fight this government took on, and that is why the finances of this territory have improved dramatically.

Furthermore, how do the members opposite explain this so-called dependency, when coming into office this government was left with a mere $5 million plus of investment in one of the biggest components of the private sector that the Yukon has - the mining industry - and today, projections for this season are over $100 million? How do the members explain that? That I call “significant growth in the private sector”. How do the members opposite explain page after page after page of job postings in our local newspapers? To a large degree, those job postings are from private companies, the corporate community, not just government.

There is a significant change in direction in the territory, and that's what the members opposite fail to recognize, to their detriment. The Yukon is on a new direction fiscally, economically, socially, with respect to its health care system, in education, in corrections and for a better and brighter future for Yukoners. There's another fundamental principle: this government has shown what its capabilities are in fiscal management, in dealing with the economy and in dealing with our social fabric and mainstays in our system, such as education, health care and corrections. We've shown what we can do. We've shown that now is the time for political stability - not for change - and a continuance of the direction and the way this government has embarked upon taking this territory into its future.

If the members opposite have valid reasons to dispute that, I would encourage them to engage with us on those valid reasons, but let's do it based on what's really happening and not on some of the things I've heard here this afternoon, and day in and day out in this Legislature. We all owe the Yukon public one fundamental obligation: to be fully transparent and correct when we represent issues on the public record.

This supplementary - once again, I repeat - clearly shows how healthy the finances of the territory are, and I think it's fair to say that, if we look forward into the future with the budget just tabled for the 2006-07 fiscal year, as well as the fiscal framework overall, that financial picture is becoming more and more healthy, because we are on the road to a point in the next fiscal year - 2007-08 - where this territory is going to be in balanced budget thresholds.

It has taken a long time for this territory to get there, so not only do we have year-end surpluses projected and healthy accumulated surpluses, but we are also showing that we're spending or investing within our means. Balanced budgets are critical to a solid, strong fiscal position that will lend itself positively to the Yukon 's future.

I'm not sure how much detail we can get into with a supplementary that we've essentially been debating through the course of the fiscal year. Many of the expenditures that are booked in this supplementary have transpired during the course of the fiscal year and have been discussed, debated and disseminated in the public domain on many occasions.

I would certainly like to do the best I can, and I'm sure our ministers will do the best they can, to provide the detail necessary for the members opposite so they too can get a firm grasp on the realities of today's Yukon.

Speaker: Are you ready 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.

Mrs. Peter: Agree.

Mr. Cardiff: Agree.

Mr. Mitchell:  Disagree.

Ms. Duncan: Disagree.

Mr. McRobb: Disagree.

Clerk: The results are 12 yea, three nay.

Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 19 agreed to

Bill No. 67: Second Reading - adjourned debate

Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 67, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Edzerza; adjourned debate, Ms. Duncan.

Ms. Duncan: I understand I have a few moments left, and I would like to remind members with regard to the safer communities legislation, when we were last debating this there was a refreshing change in the House that afternoon. As I recall, each of us had risen and expressed our support for this legislation and the debate was a good one in that there had been credit offered to the leader of the official opposition for initiating public discussion on this issue - gratitude demonstrated to the officials from Saskatchewan and Manitoba who were brought to the Yukon by the Yukon Party government to work with us on this legislation. It is one of those initiatives where we as Yukoners have worked collectively, in collaboration with one another, to recognize we have very serious issues in our community that have to be dealt with, and we want to work together.

Those are the public initiatives that I can speak of. We have all worked privately in our ridings on behalf of our citizens to deal with the issues of substance abuse and to make our communities safer.

I would like to close my support for this bill by noting a few areas where I feel we must continue our work as members of the Legislature. We can't simply pass a piece of legislation and feel that that is the end of our work in this regard. We have to do more - just as we can't sign a land claim and say that's the end of it. We have to give life and meaning to the words that we have put on paper, the words that we have signed off on, the words we are passing today.

To do this I asked an individual from Saskatchewan about the cost of implementation. At that time he indicated it would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $500,000. We've dedicated and explained $104,000 for initial start-up in this budget with an application to Management Board for more. There are funds set aside in the substance abuse action plan, but they haven't been detailed as to how they're going to be spent.

As legislators we have to watch that money and watch the legislation to make sure we do what we said we were going to do and implement this legislation, make sure there is a director and that he or she is appropriately staffed with the technology that's needed. Much of the investigation has been assisted in the other provinces with the aid of technology - surveillance cameras and modern-day equipment we don't necessarily always have at our disposal. We have to watch this and monitor it.

I also believe the way we could improve the legislation - or perhaps the next Legislature could improve the legislation - would be to review and report on it. In this instance, I'm pleased it's not included in the act that there is a review and report mechanism because that isn't always enough direction for a legislature. I'm thinking of the Education Act. I see there are some puzzled glances across the way.

The Education Act was passed in the 1990s with the requirement that there shall be a review of this act, but there was no direction as to how to review it. For that reason, because the experience hasn't always been a good one, I'm pleased there isn't a review clause in this act; however, I would strongly recommend that future legislatures review the progress of the safer communities legislation, see if it has done as we intended it to do in assisting Yukoners in making safer communities. That's a suggestion I would make to the next Legislature and it might be an amendment to the act in the future.

I would also strongly recommend that whoever is in government in the next legislative session, when this act has been in place and the money has been expended, do a public report on how well the legislation is working and that we outline that for the public, for all Yukoners, and that there perhaps is a debate as to how well it has done.

Those are ideas toward the future. For now, we must deal with the present.

I would restate my support for this legislation. It's a good initiative. It has worked well in the provinces that have had experience with it. The foundation of the legislation is a good working relationship among citizens, among neighbours, and with our law enforcement agency, the RCMP. We have seen that good working relationship and I commend it to the House as well as this legislation, which will, I believe, make for safer communities in the Yukon .

Hon. Ms. Taylor:  It is indeed my privilege and honour to rise as the MLA for Whitehorse West to speak to this very important piece of legislation, on behalf of my constituents. This is a very important bill that is before the Legislature and one that has been months in the making. There is a great degree of history behind this particular bill, how it came about and why we are here today debating this particular bill.

As has been described by many other members in the Legislature, I believe that we have all heard from each of our constituents about problems continuing to rise with crime and vandalism in each of our communities. Certainly, during my door-to-door visits in the constituency of Whitehorse West over the last couple of years, I have to say that, by and large, individuals have always spoken about our community as being one community and a very safe community. That is particularly why residents choose to make the Yukon their home - because it is a safe community.

From a tourism perspective, it is but one of many reasons why visitors also choose to make the Yukon their destination of choice.

Last fall at the end of October, I had the opportunity to hold a crime prevention forum for my constituents. It was actually during Crime Prevention Week that I held the forum. It was a great opportunity for residents in the area to come together and share their stories of how they had been impacted by crime. It also provided us with a venue to hear from a number of different crime prevention related organizations.

From those discussions, we took away some ideas as to how we could make our communities safer and more secure for our families to reside in and enjoy. During those discussions, I had representatives from Crime Prevention Yukon, the RCMP, Citizens on Patrol and Crime Stoppers, to name but a few.

There was a great amount of discussion and some great ideas; if anything, it was just an opportunity to learn about how the community is very much involved and is to be involved in driving forward healthy activities, to be responsible for ourselves, as well as the well-being of our communities.

I know the Member for Porter Creek South, in reading her remarks the other day, referred to how it takes a village to raise a child. These remarks hold a lot of weight. It does take a community to raise a community. It takes community effort to keep an eye out for each other's property, for ourselves, in order to maintain that safe and secure feeling in our communities.

I am very thankful to be in a community that places such high regard on safety and security.

In January, I had an opportunity to take part in a public meeting that was held to discuss the safer communities legislation. That meeting was very well attended by a diverse group of people who raised a number of very legitimate and very good questions. Certainly, these questions were also some of the questions that were raised with me as the MLA during my door-to-door visits in the area - relaying concerns with respect to vexatious or frivolous concerns being laid on each other and how we were to deter that kind of activity. There were questions about how, in fact, we were going to monitor activities of individuals, especially in some of the smaller rural communities where everyone knows everyone else. Again, some very good questions were raised - questions that we were able to help address by having the assistance of officials coming here to Whitehorse to talk about their experiences in the jurisdictions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where they have adopted similar pieces of legislation.

As members opposite have related in the past, this is a collaborative initiative. It is an initiative that each of the parties in the Legislature has grasped and identified as a priority. It was actually back in November - not that long ago - that we debated and unanimously consented to a motion speaking to the development of this legislation.

It entailed a great degree of public consultation with our major stakeholders and the public at large. Over the last few months that is in fact what has transpired. There has been a significant amount of input by not only our constituents but other major stakeholders - First Nations governments, municipalities and so forth. We are very appreciative of the input, because it helps us recognize a made-in-Yukon solution that works to address the needs of the Yukon citizens.

In the area that I represent, there were a number of incidents in which a number of homes were shut down as a result of grow operations occurring in some residences. I have had the opportunity to speak to people who have lived right next door to these particular homes. As you can imagine, Mr. Speaker, it is a very unsettling feeling - when you felt that you had a safe and secure community - to have it disrupted by having a number of drug busts right next door to you, and where you would least expect it. The questions as to how we could have prevented this from occurring in our neighbourhoods and what we can do in the future to address these issues - of course these are important questions that are on all our minds - especially mine.

This piece of legislation is really key. It's part of the overall Yukon substance abuse action plan. It was an important component as identified within that action plan. It has been identified as a priority by all parties represented in this Legislature. We are very fortunate to have had the assistance of other jurisdictions in helping us craft this piece of legislation. We were able to glean some of the strengths of their legislation, but more importantly, we were able to make it pertinent to the Yukon and now have a piece of legislation that meets the needs of Yukoners.

The action plan, as has been described by members, provides an overall framework of the number of initiatives and services designed to prevent the abuse of drugs and to reduce harm associated with substance abuse. It's really critical to recognize that safer communities legislation is but one tool in the tool box - as members opposite have referred to - and that it is important that, while we have better enforcement and more creative mechanisms in place to address these issues, on the other hand it is just as - if not more - important to have those programs and services for prevention and treatment for those who are associated with substance abuse in the Yukon.

We're very pleased to have identified $2 million within the budget we tabled recently in the Legislature to address some of those ongoing issues. Initiatives such as the problem-solving court, for example, are very similar to what we have in existence with the domestic violence treatment option that combines court-ordered processes with treatment to address those who are afflicted with problems associated with substance abuse in the communities.

When you couple the treatment, prevention, education and enforcement all together, you come up with a very comprehensive package of initiatives to address the problem with a holistic approach. It's very important to look at that comprehensive approach.

The legislation before us will certainly improve community safety by targeting and, if necessary, upon investigation, shutting down properties that are habitually used for illegal drug activities and other identified activities. Its success is completely dependent on the cooperation of all our respective stakeholders. I refer to First Nation governments, municipal governments, the RCMP, members of our communities and so forth.

The safer communities and neighbourhoods legislation would allow the Yukon government to use civil remedies to investigate complaints of illegal or dangerous activities on properties. It would also authorize the Government of Yukon, through its respective officials, to collect evidence to substantiate that a property is actually being used for a drug-related activity or other illegal activities, as outlined in the act. If a pattern of this use can be demonstrated through investigation by the officials and it can be shown that there is an adverse effect on our community, on our neighbourhood, the legislation has the provisions to close down that particular residence by forcing the occupants to leave for a period of time, or forcing that landlord to evict the tenant altogether.

Unlike other pieces of legislation, this particular legislation responds to concerns that, for example, the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act do not - providing the police with the tools to shut down operations such as these.

It's really important to make note of that because the federal legislation currently in place specifically focuses on the individual, whereas the territorial legislation is very similar to what Saskatchewan and Manitoba have been able to do and focuses on the impact the activity has on the overall neighbourhood or community.

We've seen this to be the case in Manitoba and Saskatchewan . I understand it was in 2001 that Manitoba introduced their legislation. Saskatchewan did so more recently - a couple of years ago, if I'm not mistaken. Both pieces of legislation have proven very effective. There's no question there are always glitches and things to be improved but, through actually implementing the legislation and having that legislated review in place, the legislated review is integral to the success of the overall legislation.

Nova Scotia has also been talking with Manitoba and Saskatchewan. I understand they're also in the process of developing legislation.

The process is generally as follows: a confidential complaint is made by an individual. This is so key, from what I have heard from individuals, because many individuals do not wish to put forward complaints or allegations about another individual in their neighbourhood for fear of retaliation. This piece of legislation actually addresses that point by enabling citizens to launch a complaint based on the illegal activities or habitual use of substances.

This legislation would enable that person to come forward. The investigator would then contact either the police or would undertake their own investigation to complete the necessary research that needs to be done.

If a particular investigator finds that there is validity to the complaint, then they would proceed to gather further evidence. Again, if the complaint was found to be somewhat frivolous or vexatious or not enough evidence was found, no action would be taken. Upon gathering sufficient evidence, the investigators would be able to take action via the courts or by working directly with the landlords. It is important to note that the legislation enables the individuals to come forward with the complaint, and that individual would not be noted - certainly their names would not be divulged throughout the investigation -  and would not even have to be used for the court process. It protects the full anonymity of individuals.

I am really pleased to be able to speak in favour of this legislation. I should also mention that part 2 of the safer communities and neighbourhoods legislation also refers to fortified buildings. Whereas we do not have problems associated with these particular dwellings, this is a safety mechanism in case an illegal activity was found in commercial dwellings, et cetera.

As a parent, as a citizen of this community - and certainly as a legislator - I am pleased to provide support for this legislation. I think that it will contribute to the safety and well-being of our community. I would also like to thank all my constituents who have provided very good input over the course of the last few months and for placing confidence in me to provide the necessary information. I would also like to thank the Copper Ridge Community Association members for putting their signatures to a letter that endorses the passing of this legislation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I'll be brief and succinct in my comments, given that there has been a tremendous amount of discussion with respect to this legislation and all it means and does on behalf of Yukon communities and Yukon citizens. I want to give a historical perspective and make some points with respect to what this legislation is, as a mechanism.

First, we'll recall a couple of years ago, communities like my own - Watson Lake and the southeast Yukon and others - expressed in no uncertain terms that they had had enough of some of the activities that were going on in their community. As a government, we convened an integrated approach among all related departments and agencies in a step to go into a community, sit down, discuss and start to address some of these issues. This also included an engagement with the members of this House, with the leader of the official opposition, the NDP, with the third party, this side of the House and many out in the public, including agencies like the RCMP and all related departments within government to commence on a process that led to a major summit in this territory with respect to substance abuse.

From there, an action plan was developed in conjunction with stakeholders, experts, departments, the Members of the Legislative Assembly and First Nation governments and others, on a way forward. There can be no doubt that this substance abuse action plan is, to a great degree, leading edge for the Yukon Territory .

 It targets some priority areas that we must address now and continue to address long into the future. One of those areas is all about this particular legislation. It adds to our ability as citizens, communities, governments and police forces to address activities in neighbourhoods and communities that, in all instances, may very well be illegal, but are certainly activities that are not welcomed by the citizens of those respective neighbourhoods or communities. I say that because we already have, under criminal legal systems and processes, mechanisms to address these very issues; however, given the extent of burden of proof for probable cause, in many cases, some of these individuals who are involved in these kinds of activities have found a way to fly under the criminal justice radar screen. Therefore, this act - this is a very important part of this - is a civil law that allows us to approach these types of challenges, more so than just on a criminal justice level, but also on a civil level. That adds to our ability to address these issues and deal with them appropriately.

It helps to integrate our systems in allowing us to do that. It can definitely be defined as a mechanism that will be addressed under the substance abuse action plan: enforcement, harm reduction and prevention. Ultimately, it is a legal mechanism that will create and give force and effect to an initiative and a mechanism within government that will allow citizens to access some agencies beyond the police forces and other criminal justice system agencies to address their particular issue, and, in doing so, they can be assured by this legislation that action will take place, versus the normal criminal justice approach to many of these complaints.

So we are increasing our ability to address what is an unacceptable situation in many of our communities and neighbourhoods, but it is not unique to Yukon. It is a challenge faced across this country. I'm very encouraged by how quickly we could come together on this, through the summit and into the substance abuse action plan development, and then this legislation's development. This has been an expedited process, and it has delivered the goods, one could say.

I think it's another example of how this institution can collectively advance initiatives in the public interest in a much more productive and constructive way versus getting into partisan debates. There are no partisan boundaries in what we're trying to address.

I have the view and am comforted that, in implementing this legislation, enforcing it, providing the necessary resources that are needed to go with it, we are going to improve our daily lives in the Yukon; we will have safer communities and, to a great degree, we will improve community well-being. On the integrated approach, we will be able to bring to bear other initiatives, agencies, departments within government and other programs to reach out to assist those involved in many of these activities that may involve substance abuse, to provide and implement many of the elements of our substance abuse action plan.

It's critical to recognize this is a front-line mechanism that will allow us to develop inroads into addressing this situation in Yukon communities on a number of fronts. I want to express a great deal of appreciation to all those who worked on the very beginnings of our approach to this substance abuse issue, to those who created the summit and put it together, those who worked on putting together the substance abuse action plan and brought together this document and this particular bill, and all those involved in the future who will be addressing this issue on an ongoing basis. We owe them a great deal.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that we will be enthusiastically supporting this legislation, and we'll be moving quickly as a government to implement resources in the immediate future, to start ensuring that our communities are going to feel the benefit - experience the benefit - of this new act here in the Yukon Territory.

Thank you.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I would like to start by thanking all Members of the Legislative Assembly for their positive comments with respect to this bill. As the Member for Porter Creek South noted, it was a rather pleasant day, actually, to have everyone speaking so positively about an important issue.

Substance abuse creates many hardships, and it can imprison a whole community. If we lived in a perfect world, there would be no need for this kind of legislation. I believe a perfect world would be one where there was no pain or suffering or any kind of abuses that would divert from the Creator's path; however, that's not so. A lot of issues and misfortunes take place on this earth. Substance abuse just happens to be one of them, and it's a man-made problem. It's not something that the Creator even planted on this Mother Earth for people to use.

Because of these issues, laws have to be in place. We have to have laws to protect the innocent people and we have to have laws so they don't become victims in their own homes. As I stated earlier, this can create a situation where the whole community can basically be held hostage.

Mr. Speaker, I heard some comments from the opposition last week about timing, such as why now. The only comment I can make to that is that it's never too late. It's better now than never to deal with this issue. We must realize that alcohol has 100 years of existence in this territory, maybe even more. Drugs have become an issue of the day. So, it's never too late to deal with issues that are becoming more of a problem as time goes on.

This government and the opposition parties today are practising traditional ways because they are looking at the big picture of what happens when drugs and alcohol take over. The individuals engaged in the selling of drugs and alcohol - it does come to a time when it gets totally out of control.

This legislation is about protecting the innocent. It's about empowering citizens of the Yukon Territory so they don't feel so helpless and so restricted about what they can do with this very serious issue.

This is legislation that will assist them in dealing with issues that create disruption in their neighbourhoods and communities. It's a tool I believe the RCMP will welcome with open arms, because there will now be an avenue to maybe give the people in the communities and neighbourhoods a bit of comfort; if there is a drug dealer next door, something can be done about it.

Today I will guarantee the House that this legislation will be adequately funded. It's one that was developed by all parties on the floor of the Legislature; it's an issue all parties are agreeable to; it will definitely become a reality. The legislation is good and I want to again thank the southern provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan for allowing us to mirror this and share their experiences with it. It's a blessing to share information across this country.

I also want to sincerely thank all the employees who worked so hard to have this legislation developed in a relatively short period of time. It was a great undertaking. They met the challenge and did a very good job. It is very much appreciated. I think I speak for everyone in the Legislature on that.

I will close by thanking all members for supporting this legislation.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called.


Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you poll the House.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Cathers: Agree.

Hon. Ms. Taylor:  Agree.

Hon. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.

Mr. Rouble: Agree.

Mr. Hassard: Agree.

Mr. Hardy: Agree.

Mrs. Peter: Agree.

Mr. Cardiff: Agree.

Mr. Mitchell:  Agree.

Ms. Duncan: Agree.

Mr. Fairclough: Agree.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 14 yea, nil nay.

Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 67 agreed to

Bill No. 70: Second Reading

Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 70, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Fentie.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: I move that Bill No. 70, Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (2006), be now read a second time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Hon. Premier that Bill No. 70, Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (2006), be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. Fentie: This bill serves to implement one change to the mineral exploration tax credit. As we all know, this credit will end legislatively on March 31, 2007. The purpose of this bill is to limit the amount of the mineral exploration tax credit available to a taxpayer to $300,000 for this upcoming year.

Mr. Speaker, this tax credit was introduced to help stimulate mineral exploration. I am very pleased to say that this credit has done exactly that. When this government assumed office in 2002, mineral exploration was at an all-time low of just $6.9 million. In 2005, mineral exploration overall in the Yukon was estimated to be at $50 million. This is an increase in mineral exploration in excess of 600 percent. We can be very pleased with this turnaround in exploration activity. I am sure we all recognize the benefit that will accrue to Yukon.

As stated, this tax credit has served us well in increasing the activity in the mining sector. As such, we believe it is now prudent to set some financial constraints on this program. I must remind us all that there was a requirement for us to review and do exactly what we are doing with respect to the tax credit. This government chose, however, in the first couple of years of its mandate, not to cap the credit but to allow it to do its work and garner as much increased activity as possible.

So, the introduction of the bill is to limit the credit to a maximum - not to cancel it - of $300,000 for this final year. It is estimated that this credit limit will affect roughly 20 percent of corporations applying. It is not expected to affect any individuals involved in mineral exploration. In 2002, the mineral exploration tax credit cost the treasury $1.7 million. In 2006 it is anticipated that the costs could be in excess of $10 million. If a cap is not instituted, I think it's clear, Mr. Speaker, where the finances of the territory could go.

It is also anticipated that the $300,000 cap being proposed will save the treasury approximately $4 million and we will, of course, be looking to where the treasury and the government can invest these monies in new and exciting options and opportunities for Yukoners and the Yukon Territory.

The government is also very pleased with the level of exploration that is expected to occur this year, and I think it's fair to say that the credit in all policies we are employing today is serving us well.

I want to close by stating clearly and categorically that this is not the end of tax measures and mechanisms to attract investment in our territory. In fact, the minister responsible and his department will be looking into an overall package and working with industry that would include the way forward with exploration, development and production, but continue to work closely with the mining industry to bring them back to the Yukon and to ensure that they make their contribution to the maximum of their potential here in our territory, contributing to our turnaround, our economic growth and to a better and brighter future.

Thank you.

Mr. Hardy: It's always a pleasure to stand and speak to an incentive that was brought in by an NDP government and has had such a profound and strong impact on assisting mineral exploration companies and sending the signal out to them that this a territory and government that supports it.

I'd like to also recognize that each of the following governments have continued to support the mineral exploration tax credit. They recognized it was a good idea, it had some merit and it has helped to stimulate this industry, which bodes well for the future.

The minister has indicated the cost of this was starting to rise substantially as the exploration has also risen. This is a good move. I think it's an excellent idea to cap it. When a tax incentive is no longer necessary, there's no reason to keep it in place - remove it or cap it, do whatever you have to. Find other areas where you can help stimulate the economy. There's no sense allowing it to stay in place, taking revenues the territorial government can realize and put into other areas that need stimulation.

It's a good move to cap this. It's my understanding that the cap is only for one year. We'll possibly be looking at not even needing a mineral exploration tax credit at all at some point. That money - even the $300,000 cap - can be put toward other areas to stimulate more activity, job creation, assistance and attraction for businesses and individuals, for the Yukon Territory.

On this side of the House, we have no problem having a cap put on this, and we'll be supporting it.


Ms. Duncan: I'm very pleased to rise on behalf of the leader and the Liberal caucus to speak to this particular piece of legislation. I'm very familiar with the income tax and mineral exploration tax credits. Speaking quite frankly to my colleagues in the Legislature, the mineral exploration tax credit and this particular facet of the Income Tax Act is a piece of legislation that sends the Finance minister scrambling for the Grecian Formula or Lady Clairol, whatever you want to use to cover the grey. Let me explain.

The mineral exploration tax credit is a very good thing. It was an NDP initiative; it was enhanced by the Liberal government. It is a tax credit that works very well. The minister mentioned other income tax initiatives. While I'm on my feet talking about income tax, I'd like to put a plug in for the teacher tax credit, which the Yukon Party, up to now, has not been willing to entertain. Perhaps at the end of their mandate they will see the light, so to speak, on that particular tax initiative.

The other tax initiative that perhaps the minister has under active discussion or consideration - along with the Energy, Mines and Resources minister - with Ottawa is what were formerly known as flow-through initiatives. There are innovations in that area perhaps under active discussion right now in the country - perhaps not.

The drawback to the mineral exploration tax credit -which is why I suggested earlier that it gives the Finance minister grey hair - is that when mineral prices go up, as they have done recently, and exploration concurrently goes up, the uptake can be very high and a significant drain on the treasury - I believe that's the diplomatic way the Finance minister put it in his opening remarks.

It's one of those situations where the impact is further down the road in that a projection can be put into the Finance budget that is presented; however, it can be that the uptake is after the exploration season - that it is felt further down in the drain of the treasury, so to speak.

Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker, the mineral exploration tax credit is a very good thing. I applaud the government's current initiative in capping it. Its drawback can be this worrisome element for the Finance minister in that it can be a very large uptake, a significant amount, which goes beyond what its original intent was - to encourage exploration.

I believe the leader of the official opposition, the leader of the NDP, has said, “Do what's necessary. Cap it or remove it.” There is a very clear distinction between capping it and removing it. The government has chosen to cap it, which I believe is the better course, and the wiser course, in that the signal is still very clear that we in the Yukon are supporting and interested in the exploration industry. We are not going to leave it to some further government to re-introduce the tax credit. We'll leave it there; we'll just deal with this worrisome element. I am supportive. I believe the leader wishes to speak as well on this particular piece of legislation. I understand why the cap has been put in place and look forward to speedy passage of this bill so that we may expedite the business of the House.

Mr. Mitchell:  I will be very brief. My colleague, the Member for Porter Creek South, has covered most of what we planned to address. I know the Finance minister will be happy to hear that we fully support the approach that his government is taking. I also feel strongly that I do not want to see the tax credit gone, but rather capped, which I think is the more prudent approach to take, because as the Member for Porter Creek South has said, prices do go up and down and it's good to have it there when necessary.

I have long been a supporter of this industry and, for that matter, when I was in the private sector, it was long a supporter of mine. So, I do understand how important, in the difficult times, something like the tax credit can be. When I attended what I still think of as the Cordilleran Roundup - I think it's now the Mineral Exploration Roundup - in Vancouver, and I can't get used to the new name - in January, and the Finance minister was there, a number of company executives actually told me, “We don't need it any more. It was great and it was important, but it's not all that relevant to us now.” So I think that putting the cap in place is the fiscally responsible thing to do, and I will support that approach.

Thank you.

Mr. Fairclough: I also would like to speak to this briefly. I can remember when the mineral exploration tax credit was introduced. Of course, at that time, it was to get the interest back and get people out there doing some exploration work and so on. I remember sitting having lunch with the then Premier/Government Leader, Piers McDonald, in the community of Carmacks, and just noticing a company man come in and sit down and have lunch. He pointed out that the government is actually probably paying for 25 percent of their lunch.

There was a lot of interest back then, and I know things have changed and we've seen a lot more people out there doing exploration work, and the price of metals is very much an interest to many people.

In my particular riding, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of mining activity and there is definitely a lot of support for it through the First Nation, through the communities and through the businesses. To give you an example, even through negotiations of selecting lands for First Nations, they selected some of these lands strictly for development and mining interests. They, too, support this process. This is from years back, so I'm glad to see this initiative did work and has been carried on through the different governments here in the territory.

I, too, would support the Yukon Party government on this bill.

Speaker: If the Hon. Premier now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Mr. Fentie: The government very much appreciates the support from the members opposite. This has been a good initiative for Yukon , there can be no doubt. At this time, I would like to express our thanks to the people who were involved in the tax round table and the work that citizens and industry and other stakeholders did in bringing forward this recommendation to government. It is a good thing that past governments adopted the recommendation and I think it's important to note that, as a government, we extended the tax credit beyond its original deadline.

It is also clear that it takes more than tax credits to engage industry and solicit investment into any given jurisdiction. It's a process that includes any number of mechanisms that are complementary of one another that create that investment environment that will allow industries such as mining to avail themselves of this credit because they are comfortable that other areas are more conducive to positive and certain investment climate.

I want to repeat that this is not an end. Work is ongoing now with respect to how we can continue to engage with the mining industry through tax measures and other mechanisms to grow and nurture the mining sector here in the Yukon . Overall, I think what we're accomplishing here today reflects the fact that many individuals have contributed to getting us to where we are, and I think that's a good sign for this territory.

Now that we're at this threshold in terms of this particular tax measure, it's clear the cap is the sensible way to go, so we can now look at other facets and areas of the mining sector that will be extremely important to move beyond exploration to that very fundamental objective of going through the development stages of mines into production, which is the ultimate goal, because that is what creates the real economic engine in the mining sector.

Exploration is a prerequisite; it's required; it is of great value; it brings the smaller companies and smaller sized operators and junior companies into any respective region. They're the ones that do the hard work in exploring and they're the ones that begin to set the stage for the further investment needed to grow the mining industry.

It's the result of the hard work of many, and the Yukon has been a beneficiary to date of that hard work.

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. Mr. Edzerza: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Lang: Agree.

Hon. Mr. Hart: Agree.

Mr. Rouble: Agree.

Mr. Hassard: Agree.

Mr. Hardy: Agree.

Mrs. Peter: Agree.

Mr. Cardiff: Agree.

Mr. Mitchell:  Agree.

Ms. Duncan: Agree.

Mr. Fairclough: Agree.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 13 yea, nil nay.

Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 70 agreed to

Bill No. 68: Second Reading

Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 68, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Hart.

Hon. Mr. Hart: I move that Bill No. 68, entitled Act to Repeal the Physiotherapists Act, be now read a second time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Community Services that Bill No. 68, entitled Act to Repeal the Physiotherapists Act, be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. Hart: This act repeals the Physiotherapists Act that received assent in December 2001 but was not proclaimed into force. By repealing the Physiotherapists Act, we would be clearing the way to establish and regulate the profession under the Health Professions Act. Section 42 of the Health Professions Act states that the health professions established by a separate act may not be designated by regulation under the Health Professions Act until the profession's specific act is revoked.

Mr. Speaker, when drafting of the Health Professions Act began, Yukon physiotherapists requested that their profession be governed under this act.

This government proceeded with this view in mind. We worked collaboratively with the working group to develop the physiotherapist regulations and all parties are pleased with the outcome of that process.

Officials within Community Services have completed their work on the physiotherapist regulations and they are in the final stages of legislative drafting and translation. The physiotherapist regulations will be the first regulations to be passed under the newly proclaimed Health Professions Act. These regulations have been developed at the request of, and in cooperation with, Yukon physiotherapists. The regulations cannot come into effect until the Physiotherapists Act is repealed.

Mr. Speaker, should this bill be supported by this Legislature, it will allow for the regulating of physiotherapy services under the Health Professions Act. Yukoners will then be assured that all practising physiotherapists meet educational and professional standards that are equal to those of other physiotherapists across Canada .

Thank you.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Mr. Cardiff: I'd just like to say that we're prepared on this side of the House to support this. We understand this. We had a fairly lengthy discussion about this in the previous sitting of the House when we debated the Health Professions Act. We see this as a good thing. This is something that the physiotherapists had asked for some time ago. They were looking for the opportunity to develop regulations to regulate their profession. So, we support this.

I'd be interested to find out from the minister in Committee of the Whole or in his closing remarks which other professions - because that was one of the topics of discussion, I think, when we were debating the Health Professions Act - have requested to be regulated under the Health Professions Act and where we're at with regulations for some of those other professions.

It kind of goes to the motion debate that we had yesterday when we were talking about the lack of regulations and how that hinders the ability for nurse practitioners to basically start their own clinics or their own businesses here in the Yukon. I would be interested in the minister's comments on that. I will have some other questions as well - some similar to the questions we had during the debate of the Health Professions Act where there were amendments proposed, and whether or not some of those areas have been dealt with.

We will be supporting this bill and we look forward to discussing this further with the minister later on.

Ms. Duncan: I rise in support of this piece of legislation. This is housekeeping legislation - it's tidying up legislation that is on the books. We already have the health omnibus bill - I believe that's how we referred to it. The Physiotherapists Act was passed in 2001, but then we moved on to a health omnibus bill, so now we have to repeal it. I understand that; I have no difficulty supporting it.

In Committee of the Whole debate, I would be interested in the minister's indication of whether or not there has been any progress on delivering midwifery legislation or if midwives are intended to be covered under the health omnibus bill. With advances in the health care field, this isn't the same question it was some years ago when we first started looking at a health omnibus bill. There has been the advent of a greater number of nurse practitioners in the field, so it's not perhaps at the top of the radar screen, as it once was. However it is an important question.

I am also interested, of course, in how the government envisions the future role and regulation of nurse practitioners in the Yukon Territory in order to enhance their employment. Have there been any discussions with the YMA in that regard?

Perhaps the minister has been following the recent discussions regarding the licensing of doctors in Canada. There was a news report yesterday on CBC as I was leaving the Legislature regarding a thoracic surgeon who had immigrated to Canada with her family. She was working at a telemarketing firm for less than minimum wage in Montreal because of the licensing procedures. This is a woman who had not only been a successful surgeon, but she also had taught at a number of hospitals. The fees for licensing and for sitting the Canadian exams were thousands of dollars. The reporter of this story indicated that this was not an uncommon occurrence in Health and Human Resources Canada. There were many foreign-trained doctors unable to practise for one reason or another in Canada.

I understand that this is somewhat outside the discussion of this specific legislation, and there is a whole array of questions that the Health and Social Services minister would like to deal with in that regard. Legislation is the foundation for some of these issues. I want to make sure that in Yukon we do it right. Perhaps in Committee of the Whole or informally, the minister would care to send me a note updating me on progress in licensing our health professionals and working with health professionals in order to ensure that Yukoners have access. It is hoped that those who want to work in Canada in their chosen field can do so, and in terms of the omnibus health bill, we make progress with other health professionals in the field.

It's somewhat of a more long-winded answer than I originally intended, Mr. Speaker. I thank members for their patience this afternoon. I do support this particular bill and look forward to its speedy passage through Committee.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: Minister of Community Services, you have the right to reply.

Hon. Mr. Hart: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll be brief. For the members opposite, I don't have the specifics on which professions are next on the list - where we are. I will have that prepared for Committee of the Whole.

With respect to the licensing of doctors, we are reviewing that situation currently, as licensing is under my prerogative purview right now. I will be working with the Department of Health and Social Services, though, on that particular issue, for obvious reasons.

I will provide the information on midwives and have a response ready for when we get to Committee of the Whole. I appreciate the support of members opposite.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called.


Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you 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.

Mrs. Peter: Agree.

Mr. Cardiff: Agree.

Mr. Mitchell:  Agree.

Ms. Duncan: Agree.

Mr. Fairclough: Agree.

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

Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 68 agreed to

 Bill No. 69: Second Reading

Clerk: Second reading, Bill No. 69, standing in the name of the Hon. Mr. Cathers.

Hon. Mr. Cathers: I move that Bill No. 69, entitled Canadian Blood Services Indemnification Act, be now read a second time.

Speaker: It has been moved by the Minister of Health and Social Services that Bill No. 69, entitled Canadian Blood Services Indemnification Act, be now read a second time.

Hon. Mr. Cathers: I am pleased to rise in the House today to give second reading to the Canadian Blood Services Indemnification Act. Until 1998, the Canadian Red Cross Society included blood collection as part of its business to provide humanitarian assistance; however, through the 1980s and 1990s, it became clear to the Red Cross, governments and the public that the collection and supply of blood had become a complex business that required dedicated and very specialized expertise, as well as controls.

As a result, the Red Cross moved out of the blood business and provincial and territorial governments, with the exception of Quebec, set up the Canadian Blood Services, whose sole purpose is to manage and administer the country's blood supply system. Quebec set up its own parallel, non-profit corporation called Héma-Québec, and the two corporations work closely together to manage blood supply services for all Canadians.

Canadian Blood Services provides an essential service within the country's health systems. Canadians respect Canadian Blood Services, often known as the CBS, and they rely on the CBS to provide them with life-saving blood and blood products.

However, the blood supply business carries a number of risks. Canadian Blood Services needs to make sure it can pay out the cost of claims made against it in relation to those risks if and when such costs occur. Those costs can range from small claims for routine insurance matters to potential large, class-action suits for catastrophic events.

It has been determined that Canadian Blood Services should have $1 billion in place to cover potential catastrophic losses. When CBS was established in 1998, that $1 billion of coverage was set up so that it would be provided through two layers. The first layer of $250-million coverage is provided through a captive insurance company owned by Canadian Blood Services. For members' reference, a captive insurance company is a company set up by a parent company with its main purpose being to insure the risks of that parent company.

The second layer of insurance was an additional $750 million in coverage to be accessed only if the primary layer of $250 million was exceeded, and that second layer was obtained through re-insurance contracts that the captive insurance company was able to purchase.

However, since 1998, the insurance market has changed dramatically. Insurance costs have skyrocketed and commercial insurance companies are more restrictive on what they will cover. The annual cost of buying re-insurance that makes up the second layer rose from $5 million per year in 1998 to $15 million per year in 2005, and the costs are expected to keep on rising quickly.

Because of this, over the past two years the Canadian Blood Services and the governments, which are the voting members, have jointly re-examined how to make sure the risks of Canadian Blood Services are covered. As a result of that review, a decision has been made to replace the second layer that was previously acquired through purchasing re-insurance on the commercial market with a new excess captive insurance company instead.

An excess insurance company will only pay for claims that are in excess of the first $250-million layer, up to a maximum of $750 million. Together, the two layers continue to provide Canadian Blood Services with the $1 billion of coverage in total. The new excess captive insurance company will be set up in British Columbia . Participating governments will sign an agreement by the end of May of this year, stating that the capital for any costs to be paid out of this excess captive insurance company to Canadian Blood Services will come from the governments who participate in the CBS.

The agreement will state that each government will pay its share of any claims that are to be paid out, and the share of each government will be based on its per capita share among all the provinces and territories that are part of Canadian Blood Services.

What this means for the Yukon is that if ever a claim for the full $750-million worth of coverage comprised by the excess insurance must be paid out, Yukon's allocation of those costs, based on our current population, would be about $950,000. Governments have a choice about how they want to provide their capital for this process. The B.C. regulator will allow governments to put aside cash up front through a number of options or governments can indicate they will provide their capital, if it is needed, by providing an indemnity to the captive insurance company.

Since it was set up in 1988, Canadian Blood Services has an extremely strong track record of safe practice and low insurance payouts. Canadian Blood Services has only paid out about $60,000 total in insurance claims since 1988. For this reason, we do not expect that claims will need to be paid out by the excess captive insurance company very often and it is highly unlikely that a claim requiring the full $750 million will need to be paid out.

Within this context, it makes the most sense for the Yukon government to provide an indemnity, rather than set the money aside in cash, in the unlikely event that it is needed. An indemnity lets us pay what is needed, if it is needed, and it is anticipated that other governments within Canada will provide indemnities as well, as their way of providing the assurance of this capital.

The Yukon 's Financial Administration Act requires that a specific legislative authority be in place prior to the Yukon government providing an indemnity. The purpose of this act before members today is to put the legislative authority in place to allow the Yukon government to provide an indemnity to the Canadian Blood Services corporation within limits that are stated in this legislation.

With this authority in place, the Yukon government can participate with all the other provincial and territorial governments, with the exception of Quebec, in providing indemnities that serve to cover the risks of Canadian Blood Services in the unlikely event that the excess captive insurance of $750 million is dipped into.

Canadian Blood Services has proven itself to be a well-managed service with a very strong safety record. Canadians rely on it to provide them with this vital service and by supporting this bill, Yukon can join the other provinces and territories in giving Canadian Blood Services the backup it needs so that it can focus its attention on what matters most, that being serving Canadians and ensuring safety of the national blood supply.

With that, I commend this bill to the House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Hardy: I just want to thank the minister opposite for supplying us with that information. We recognize the importance of this and we have absolutely no problem with Bill No. 69. With that, I informed the House that the official opposition will be supporting this.

Ms. Duncan: I rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to support this piece of legislation that is before us: Bill No. 69, the Canadian Blood Services Indemnification Act.

It's perhaps a sad commentary that the litigious nature of our society requires governments to do indemnification after indemnification acts. There are many of them that have passed through the House.

I appreciated the minister's very thorough explanation as to how this indemnity would work and what the future cost - worst case scenario - to the Yukon might be. Would the minister perhaps answer this question - either in Committee of the Whole or by providing a note? How will we record this possible indemnity in our future books? We've changed our method of accounting, and we're recording our assets at great length. This is a potential liability, so how are we going to show it on our books? Perhaps the minister could send me a note on that, in consultation with the Finance minister.

I have another question related to this bill. I brought forward a motion in the House that also related to blood. The issue there was the instances where good Samaritans, emergency service workers, can, on occasion, come into contact with blood. I apologize for not having the motion in front of me, but it requested legislation that would enable the testing to take place so those who had come into contact with blood might be reassured that that blood was not contaminated.

That motion was supported by the House and there was agreement, as I understood it, to begin work on the legislation. Perhaps the minister, given that we're discussing blood, could provide me with an update as to the progress they're making with developing that legislation. I may then in turn report back to constituents.

That being said, I support the bill on behalf of our caucus and look forward to its prompt passage through the House.

Speaker: The honourable minister, if he speaks, will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: I thank the members for their support of this legislation. I will answer one of the questions asked by the Member for Porter Creek South now as at this time I do have the answer. Regarding the potential development of legislation on mandatory blood sampling in the event of someone such as a policeman or policewoman, firefighters or health professionals coming into contact with someone who perhaps has bitten them or poked them with a needle, for example - yes, as the member stated, it was unanimously supported by the House. To this point, the lead in developing that legislation has been the Department of Justice.

Over the past few months since the last sitting, the Department of Justice has dedicated a significant amount of its legislative time - in addition to the ongoing legislative initiatives - toward the development of safer communities legislation. This issue has not been forgotten or dropped off the books. It is simply a matter where moving forward on one piece of significant legislation in a rush precluded and prevented us from developing this piece of legislation for the spring sitting, especially since there are, as the member is aware, potential Charter issues. There have been pieces of legislation developed in other areas that have looked at this, but it is a delicate issue. There needs to be significant review of this to ensure that we are passing a piece of legislation that will stand up to the Charter, prior to its implementation.

This is just an update for the Member for Porter Creek South. I do recognize the importance of that issue. I recognize and appreciate the work of our front-line service providers in health, whether they be ambulance attendants, paramedics, doctors, nurses or any of the other individuals in front-line capacity, and, of course, the police and other emergency responders as well, for the risks that they take for each and every one of us every day when responding to the call of duty.

We will be moving forward on the concerns of the Member for Porter Creek South. It was simply a matter of noted resources that prevented us from having it ready for this session.

With that, I thank the members for their support of this legislation and look forward to any questions they may have on this in Committee of the Whole.

Speaker: Are you prepared for the question?

Some Hon. Members: Division.


Speaker: Division has been called.


Speaker: Mr. Clerk, would you 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.

Mrs. Peter: Agree.

Mr. Cardiff: Agree.

Mr. Mitchell:  Agree.

Ms. Duncan: Agree.

Clerk: Mr. Speaker, the results are 14 yea, nil nay.

Speaker: The yeas have it. I declare the motion carried.

Motion for second reading of Bill No. 69 agreed to

Hon. Mr. Cathers: 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


Deputy Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 20, First Appropriation Act, 2006-07. We'll continue with general debate on the Department of Justice.

Before we begin, do members wish a brief recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Deputy Chair: We will take a 15-minute recess.


Deputy Chair: I will now call Committee of the Whole to order.

Bill No. 20 - First Appropriation Act, 2006-07- continued

Deputy Chair: We will proceed with Bill No. 20, First Appropriation Act, 2006-07.

Department of Justice - continued

Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I think where I left off in the last debate was talking about all the initiatives that have happened within Justice in the last year. One that was raised a lot was the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. I want to thank the Member for Mount Lorne for recognizing the value of correctional reform and the corrections consultation that took place with regard to a new correctional facility. The Liberals did not appear very supportive and I can't understand why. However, they must have their reasons.

Mr. Deputy Chair, this government is in agreement with the rest of the citizens in the territory. A new facility must be built. In this capital budget we have identified $1 million for redeveloping the Correctional Centre. The correctional infrastructure project involves a planning and design phase for a new correctional centre. For 2006-07, the target will be to provide drawings and technical specifications to the point of readiness to tender for a standard stipulated price general contract construction project.

A project manager will be assigned to this project. The manager will work with the corrections consultation action plan to develop a new facility. Correctional reform is a government priority. It is also a priority of mine.

We want to help individuals and communities build a capacity and courage to change lives. Mr. Deputy Chair, we know that the Correctional Centre needs to be a safe and secure place in which to live and work, and we know that we need a new correctional centre. That is part of the equation. We also realize that there is a lot of need for a change in program development and delivery. We wanted to know what programs and services are needed in a new jail and the community. We wanted to understand the issues facing inmates, other offenders, victims and families and communities. We wanted to know where First Nation governments, communities and non-government organizations could fit in correctional reform. That is why we decided to make the replacement of the jail a part of a broader initiative - the reforming of our correctional system. That is why we undertook the corrections consultation and made it part of our investment in correctional reform. I agree with that decision and am pleased that it was made. This was a very comprehensive consultation - a territory-wide public consultation. I sincerely thank the consultation team for their hard work.

Ms. Duncan: I am pleased to join once again with the minister in general debate on the Department of Justice operations and maintenance and capital estimates.

The minister opened his remarks this afternoon with some political comments. Among those comments, he indicated that the Liberal caucus did not support correctional reform. For the last three and a half years, I have been correcting “the facts”, as the members opposite state them to the House. I would just like to, once again, perform that service.

Upon taking office in 2000, the then Liberal government had a fire marshal's report, as well as the Barr Ryder Architects' report, which didn't recommend replacement of the facility - it said, “You have to.” It is unconscionable that the government would not accept a direction like that from the fire marshal.

Now, the minister has often said, “Well, you had two and a half years and you didn't build it.” We spent two and a half years in office, and a significant sum of taxpayers' money, and turned the dirt, and had a $17-million commitment in the previous budget, prior to this government taking office.

It was not a warehouse that was under construction. This consultation and work on construction of a new facility was not done in isolation. Very significant consultation was done with the Elders Council at Council of Yukon First Nations. Ministers and staff were in regular consultation and worked with them.

Nonetheless, the government reached a decision did not proceed with the construction and instead proceeded with the consultation on corrections. The minister and I have had discussions in Question Period about that consultation, and I have not, at any point in time, expressed a lack of support for the correctional consultation. In fact, I joined with the minister in thanking the officials for their work - and the Yukoners who participated.

There has been a lengthy debate and many discussions the Member for Mount Lorne has had about the correctional centre. Up until now, I have not gone there in this debate. I did, however, indicate to the minister that I had one question remaining, and I don't want to take a great deal of House time and get into a long discussion about the replacement of the correctional facility. The minister and members on both sides are going to have to speak with the Yukon people directly about that in the near future, whenever the Premier sees fit to call the election. “He said-she said” could carry on in that most public of Yukon forums.

I have one question I would like to ask the minister to address prior to closing the debate on the Justice budget. That is simply this: one of the issues brewing in relation to the correctional facility has been the scheduling for staff. It is one HR issue - a very, very significant issue that has been ongoing in the department. I understand it is a personnel matter. However, the sides, at this point, are at a stalemate and there is a problem. Discussions have been going on for two years. We have an unresolved problem and that problem is rapidly making its way to the minister's desk.

Is the minister fully aware of the issues and is he contemplating any innovative solutions to try and resolve this outstanding issue with staff? Would the minister answer that question, please?

Hon. Mr. Edzerza: The member opposite has constantly referred to the fire marshal's comments over the course of the last few years. I feel it's important to read into the record some information around the fire marshal renovations. Mr. Deputy Chair, in December 2002, the fire marshal inspected the Whitehorse Correctional Centre and recommended renovations that should be completed if we want to continue to use the facility until a new one is built. It is important to note that this report was issued prior to the January 2003cancellation of the previous facility replacement project. In other words, even with the building development underway, there was still a need, according to the fire marshal, to address some specific safety issues at the existing facility. We have addressed the concerns in the fire marshal's report and addressed correctional reform and programming for offenders in the correctional consultations.

Many numbers have been circulated when discussing the Whitehorse Correctional Centre renovations project. Therefore, I would like to confirm that the total cost of the renovations conducted remains at $912,000. Again, let me reiterate that this is money that would have had to be spent to keep the current facility operational until such a time as a new facility was built. As well, Mr. Deputy Chair, I am proud of the other improvements we have made in both staff and inmate conditions. Aside from the changes that were required by the fire marshal, we have increased the resources available for mental and physical health services for inmates, which also includes building a secure medical room for them.

We have also increased programming for inmates with a special focus on First Nation programming. This past year we have been building a trade shop that will allow more inmates to take training that will give them life skills once they leave Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

As for the staff, we have increased the resources available for staff training, which will ensure a greater level of safety for both staff and inmates. A new staffing trailer has been built and outfitted with furnishings that will allow staff a well-deserved rest and break away from the floor.

Over the past four years, we have worked very hard to improve the conditions within the Correctional Centre as well as speaking to Yukoners about correctional reform through the corrections consultation. We are now ready to move forward with the action plan and the planning and design for a new facility.

With regard to the hours of work at Whitehorse Correctional Centre, yes, we are aware of the concerns there. I can confirm that on February 1, 2006 , the shift schedule for corrections officers at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre was changed to a 7/3 to 7/4 shift schedule with eight-hour shifts, as set out in the collective agreement.

So there has been a move away from 12-hour shifts in favour of eight-hour shifts. Let me be clear that the collective agreement clearly stipulates an eight-hour shift pattern. Hours of work is an operational issue and any questions about this issue should be directed to the Department of Justice or the Public Service Commission.

While I do not think it appropriate for me as a minister to be involved in setting shift schedules at this institution, I understand that the assistant deputy minister has sent a letter to staff that outlines some of the operational issues that 12-hour shifts raise. In the letter, he indicated that Department of Justice officials reviewed the correctional research materials that examined stress levels and shift patterns. They consulted our colleagues in other jurisdictions. They also considered the input from the union that said that some correctional officers prefer a 12-hour schedule because it allows them more days away from the work at one time.

It should be noted, however, that Justice officials have heard that many staff members prefer eight-hour shifts, as they feel it is easier to schedule their lives according to an eight-hour shift rather than a 12-hour one. To the best of my knowledge, the administration is doing what it thinks is best for the operation of the Whitehorse Correctional Centre.

We want the Whitehorse Correctional Centre to be an institution focused primarily on the needs of the inmates and a place where inmates can start to make meaningful changes in their lives.

I have been advised that Whitehorse Correctional Centre management remains open to discussing with the union alternatives to eight-hour scheduling patterns. I am told that there have been some very preliminary discussions between the superintendent and union representatives of the WCC local, and both parties have indicated they are prepared to resume constructive discussions of alternatives to eight-hour shift schedules.

The department is also working hard to reduce reliance on auxiliary on-call positions. I am told that the process is underway of converting three auxiliary on-call positions to indeterminate corrections officers positions. It is our hope that this will also assist us in improving scheduling patterns and getting the kinks out of the new schedule. The schedule aside, I would like to express my appreciation to all staff for their commitment and hard work. Members of the public rarely see how important their work is to maintaining public safety and assisting offenders in their return to society. The dedication of staff has been even more notable during the past year as operations have been maintained even while various construction and renovation projects took place. I hope the new staff facility trailer will allow staff a more comfortable place of rest during their work-hour breaks.

We recognize that we can and should do more to ensure that the Whitehorse Correctional Centre operates at the highest professional standards. We will be dealing with staffing and human resource issues as we move to implement the recommendations of the corrections consultation.

The corrections consultation noted that “An effective correctional system needs a dedicated workforce committed to the correctional system's organizational philosophy and goals. Different staffing policies and processes may be necessary for staff recruitment, training and support in order to hire the right people. Staff morale at Whitehorse Correctional Centre has been negatively affected by a high turnover in superintendents, unpredictable work schedules and a lack of job security and benefits for some positions. Staff have not always fully understood issues, such as staff and inmate safety, security, inmate rights, disciplinary procedures, roles and responsibilities of case management, correctional officers, senior management, or the goals, objectives and operating principles of Whitehorse Correctional Centre.”

As you may know, Mr. Deputy Chair, we are moving forward on planning that will result in the replacement of the existing Correctional Centre. In the meantime, government is committed to making the Whitehorse Correctional Centre a safe place to live and work in.

We just completed extensive renovations to meet the requirements of the 2002 fire marshal's report. Late in 2004, Whitehorse Correctional Centre became a non-smoking facility. Between this change and increased searches of the dorms, we believe we have significantly reduced the amount of second-hand smoke that both inmates and staff were subjected to.

Mr. Deputy Chair, we are also working to improve the conduct of staff who work at the facility. We recognize that working as a correctional officer or in the administration at a jail can be a very stressful job. Training can give staff confidence that they know how to do their job effectively and will assist in reducing the levels of stress on the job.

We are working to ensure that staff is trained to professional standards. In the last fiscal year we added $170,000 to the Whitehorse Correctional Centre budget to cover the cost of training new employees and re-certification of existing staff. This will help us to ensure that basic safety and security are maintained for inmates and staff. We have also installed a staff trailer, as I mentioned earlier, to improve and to have available a nice atmosphere in which the staff can relax before and after their shifts. Mr. Deputy Chair, it's not like this government has been sitting idle doing nothing. In the interim, before the new correctional facility is constructed, the government is doing everything possible to make it a comfortable working environment, and also a comfortable place for the clients who are there.

Deputy Chair: Is there any further general debate?

We will now proceed with line-by-line.

Ms. Duncan: I would request the unanimous consent of Committee of the Whole to deem all lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, cleared or carried, as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, cleared or carried

Deputy Chair: Ms. Duncan has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 8, Department of Justice, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members: Agreed.

Deputy Chair: Unanimous consent has been granted.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $39,629,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $1,547,000 agreed to

Department of Justice agreed to

Deputy Chair: Do members wish to take a five-minute recess?

Some Hon. Members: Agreed.

Deputy Chair: We will recess for five minutes.


Chair: Committee of the Whole will now come to order. We will continue with Bill No. 20, First Appropriation Act, 2006-07, Vote 3, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.

Department of Energy, Mines and Resources

Hon. Mr. Lang:   It gives me pleasure to introduce the 2006-07 main budget for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. Energy, Mines and Resources is tasked with developing Yukon 's land-based natural resources and for managing their development in a balanced and responsible manner for the benefit of all Yukon people.

Our budget for 2006-07 focuses on continuing the fine work done to date to fulfill this mandate. The department's efforts continue to support the government's successful revitalization of the Yukon's resource economy. Over the coming year, the priorities for Energy, Mines and Resources will be to do the following: ensure that the Yukon's regulatory regime is clear and competitive; make significant progress in the drafting of new forestry legislation in consultation with industry, First Nations and key public stakeholders; work to involve First Nations in Yukon's resource economy in oil and gas, forestry and mineral development by supporting training and First Nation capacity development; provide legal clarity for the mine site reclamation and closure policy and advance closure planning at BYG and Faro; oversee the return of the United Keno Hill Mines Ltd. to the private sector; continue to foster First Nations involvement in closure planning for abandoned mines, care and maintenance and reclamation activities at these sites; develop and deliver programs that promote energy efficiency through the recently established EMR's Energy Solutions Centre; facilitate major mine permitting and assist major mine projects, such as Wolverine, Carmacks Copper, Minto, Division Mountain and Red Mountain to deal with government processes by keeping the assigned project coordinators; continue to work to support development of forest management plans, as set out in chapter 17 of the First Nations' final agreements; continue to work with Community Services on planned land development to increase Yukon residents' access to agriculture, residential and commercial land, and support and guide regional land use planning processes; continue to provide client-focused service through a work environment where problem-solving, creative teamwork, risk management and personal efforts are valued; work closely with other government departments on corporate objectives, such as integrated resource management, mine project facilitation and capacity building.

The Department of Energy, Mines and Resources remains focused on expanding Yukon's resource-based economy through responsive client service, a new agricultural policy, a revitalization of the Energy Solutions Centre, an aggressive mineral development program, support for a new placer regime, and completing and implementing forest management plans that ensure opportunities for a sustainable forest industry.

The Department of Energy, Mines and Resources received a total increase of $647,000 over last year's forecast in its operation and maintenance budget. Operation and maintenance recoveries from third parties are estimated at $414,000; operation and maintenance recoveries from Canada are estimated at $11,546,000.

The department's capital budget is set at $5.5 million. Revenue this year is estimated to be $7.2 million.

I'd like to outline some of the highlights of Energy, Mines and Resources' 2006-07 main budget. In oil and gas and mineral resources, our government has allocated $775,000 for the continued support of the Yukon mining incentive program. This funding helps to promote and enhance mineral prospecting, exploration and development activity in the Yukon . A total of 62 applications were received and 53 were approved for funding. This program provides a portion of the risk capital required to locate and explore mineral deposits in Yukon .

We are supporting the mining industry by streamlining the permitting process and other initiatives such as the mineral rights task force, in partnership with the Yukon Chamber of Mines.

We are continuing to implement the major project oversight committee as part of the integrated resource management initiative. This will help improve and coordinate the access that proponents have to government and help them through the permitting process. Projects currently within this process include Wolverine, Minto, Division Mountain, Carmacks Copper and Red Mountain.

The government is also continuing to support the very popular Yukon mineral exploration tax credit through 2006, with the new ceiling of $300,000 per eligible expenses. This tax credit helps companies raise capital and leverage funds for Yukon-based programs.

We have established the Yukon geological survey unit as a separate branch in the department. We continue to support this branch's program to provide scientific and technical information on the geology and mineral deposits for industry development, land use decision-making and wise stewardship. We are directing and overseeing the care, maintenance and orderly planning for the remediation of type 2 mine sites at BYG, Mount Nansen, Clinton Creek and, of course, the Faro mine site. The Yukon government will manage reclamation work and contracts to ensure that Yukon contractors and communities benefit from all this work. The receiver and Canada expect to spend another $11 million at the Faro site this year on care and maintenance and special projects. Up to 70 percent of these care and maintenance dollars are expected to be spent in Yukon, employing more than 40 Yukoners.

We are pleased to have the director of the Faro mine closure planning office in place. With an office now open in Whitehorse, the Faro mine closure planning office is responsible for preparing a final closure plan. This plan will be established in conjunction with the Yukon government, Canada and the First Nations, with funding being provided for community-based offices to support community involvement.

We are also pleased about the United Keno Hill Mines Ltd. property sale to the private sector. The court approved the sale of the United Keno Hill Mines property to LexCo Resource Corporation in February 2006.

The initial close took place on April 18, and we look forward to the beginning of the exploration activities and the reclamation of the historical liabilities of this site. The department continues to support the work of the Yukon placer secretariat. The secretariat was formed in December 2005 through a partnership with the Government of Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Council of Yukon First Nations. The secretariat's main responsibility is to complete and implement a new Yukon placer mining regulatory regime by the year 2007.

We are intervening in the Mackenzie Valley pipeline project to make sure the Yukon is able to maximize opportunities that will arise from northern oil and gas development and ensure Yukon 's natural gas reserves are not stranded. We are also working in collaboration with partners, including First Nations, other jurisdictions and regulatory bodies, to develop a clear and effective regulatory process for the Alaska Highway pipeline in Yukon.

Our focus has been and will continue to be on ensuring our interests are met, regardless of which regulatory process is followed. We continue to work with and provide funding to the Aboriginal Pipeline Coalition, which represents seven Yukon First Nations and three northeast B.C. First Nations that are part of the Kaska Dena Council.

We have completed the Yukon forest policy framework to guide the development of the new Yukon forest resources stewardship act. This new act will replace the outdated timber regulations we inherited at devolution. The new forestry legislation will centre on forest tenure and forest planning, and we will commit Yukon to the sustainable management and sound stewardship of the Yukon forest resources.

We have made significant progress in forest industry development. Energy, Mines and Resources has awarded permits totalling more than 340,000 cubic metres to Forevergreen Wood Products of Watson Lake. The B.C. Minister of Forests is completing an order-in-council that will enable the cross-border flow of logs for processing in either of our jurisdictions.

More than 120,000 cubic metres of wood have been engineered and developed for harvesting in southwest Yukon, providing an opportunity for higher volumes and multi-year permits for commercial fuel woodcutters and other operators.

The Yukon government and the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations recently established a harvest ceiling for the beetle-affected forests of southwest Yukon . This will provide an opportunity for the harvest of up to one million cubic metres over a 10-year period. This opportunity is now being advertised to industry through a request for proposals, which closes on July 17.

The Kaska Forest Resources Stewardship Council is completing a forest management plan for southeast Yukon, our largest timber basket. A draft of this plan will be available for public comment this spring and we expect to receive recommendations from the council by mid-summer that will lead to an AAC - or annual allowable cut - determination. The draft Teslin regional forest management plan has been completed and will soon be recommended to the Yukon government and the Teslin Tlingit Council. As I indicated, implementation of the forest management plan for the Champagne and Aishihik traditional territory is well underway.

We hope to see tangible economic development opportunities as well as opportunities to begin restoring forest health as early as this summer. Additional work is underway to identify an interim wood supply in the Whitehorse area, which will be followed by the preparation of a forest management plan for this Y-05 region.

In addition to completing these critical forest management plans, we're also ensuring a wood supply for a variety of purposes. Working with the Kaska Forest Resources Stewardship Council, more than 300,000 cubic metres of timber have been engineered and developed for harvest in southeast Yukon.

This timber could be made available today. Energy, Mines and Resources completed timber salvage plans for several of the 2004 Watson Lake fires. Salvage opportunities for two of the largest of these fires, near False Canyon Creek and Barney Lake , have been recently awarded to Forevergreen Wood Products of Watson Lake to harvest up to 340,000 cubic metres of near sawlog-quality timber.

Wood is being made available across the Yukon, including Whitehorse , Dawson City and Ross River. Significant volumes of beetle-kill spruce have been prepared for market in southwest Yukon, in collaboration with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations. This enables high-volume, multi-year permits for harvesting.

Energy, Mines and Resources has completed the forest inventory on over 22 million hectares, including the central and northern Yukon, and we have made a nationally recognized commitment to reforestation.

These milestones in forest management cannot be overstated. They are historically significant. For the first time ever, plans for the development of the wood basket that stretches from the B.C. border in southeast Yukon to the Alaska border near Haines Junction in the southwest are all near completion.

Similar milestones have also been reached in lands. We are working with the Teslin Tlingit Council to jointly develop rural residential or rural recreational lots in the Teslin area. This joint development will take place on settlement lands, as well as public lands, and this is the first project of its kind in Yukon .

In addition, opportunities for Yukon people to acquire land for a variety of lifestyles from planned development rather than spot applications have never looked better. This year, a combination of developed lots for residential, rural residential and agricultural purposes will be available to Yukoners in the City of Whitehorse, along the Mayo Road in Grizzly Valley , in Whitehorse Copper and in Haines Junction.

In agriculture, the Yukon government has modernized the Yukon agricultural policy in consultation with industry, First Nations and other stakeholders to ensure the changing needs of the agricultural industry are addressed.

Continued funding of up to $321,000 will be provided by the federal government for the federal agricultural policy framework agreement. The five-year agricultural policy framework focuses on sector profitability and viability. This agreement will help the agricultural industry develop in the areas of economic viability, food health and safety, environmental sustainability, business development and science and innovation.

The farm income payment program will see a total of $273,000 of federal dollars made available to Yukon farmers. The national water supply program - another initiative generated through the federal agricultural policy framework agreement - will bring a further $100,000 of federal dollars into the territory to expand opportunities for irrigation.

In the fall of this year, we will take possession of a new mobile abattoir that will enable dramatic expansion of the industry by bringing new locally produced meat product to retail markets.

We continue to treat regional land use planning as a priority within this government. We are working to put recommended plans in place to guide resource management and help coordinate and balance economic development and conservation on Yukon lands. We anticipate the first of these regional land use plans, the plans for the north Yukon, to be submitted for government review and approval later this year.

The second land use plan currently underway is in the Peel watershed region. We are prepared to negotiate a memorandum of understanding with the federal government, which will outline our intention to work collaboratively on climate change issues so that the maximum benefits can be realized by both parties.

In January 2006, we assumed control of the Energy Solutions Centre. We have now begun the task of working with other key departments to identify areas where mandates might overlap. Work is underway to clarify the mandate of the Energy Solutions Centre and we are also working to identify new economic opportunities related to innovation and research in energy conservation, efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

The Energy Solutions Centre will continue to work with Yukon communities to help them access federal programs and funding to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and to use renewable resources where possible. These projects could potentially enhance the sustainability of these communities by reducing their reliance on fuel oil, reducing long-term heating costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy, Mines and Resources, in cooperation with other key departments and Crown corporations, is in the initial stages of developing a comprehensive energy strategy for Yukon . We have completed a draft Yukon government strategy for climate change management and we have defined climate change responsibility between Environment, Energy, Mines and Resources and the Executive Council Office. Energy, Mines and Resources and I are looking forward to extending our hospitality to energy and mines ministers from across the nation by hosting the Council of Energy and Mines Ministers in Whitehorse in August of this year.

This concludes the introductory comments for the main estimates for the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources. Thank you.

Mr. Cardiff: There was a lot of information in the minister's opening comments. I will be reviewing his comments and I'm sure there will be some questions coming out of that.

The minister started by saying they were working on a Yukon forest stewardship act. In the operational plan that was put out last November, one of the things identified was to complete legislative drafting and tabling of new forestry legislation. Can the minister tell me when he expects that legislation to come forward? Can he identify the process whereby the public has been consulted in the development of this new legislation?

Hon. Mr. Lang: As I commented during my presentation, we will be working on that and hopefully will have that out by the fall or by the end of this year. Of course, there is a process involving the public and it has been rolling out with some public input.

Mr. Cardiff: Can the minister tell me if there are further meetings scheduled for public consultation on this legislation over the summer? Or has the consultation process come to a close on this?

Hon. Mr. Lang: We have been working with the successor legislation group on this. Of course, it involves our partner, our First Nation. We have been working on that and hopefully we will have something out by the end of the year. Certainly there has been a process on how the public is involved, but, to be truthful, I would have to probably get back to the member opposite and give him a breakdown in writing on how it works and how it has been working, to make it clearer for him.

Mr. Cardiff: I would appreciate that, Mr. Chair. I'm sure the other members of the opposition would be appreciative of seeing that. It would be interesting to see just what the public's involvement is. I understand the need to consult with the industry and with the First Nation partners in the resource, but I hope that the public, as well, is consulted.

Seeing as how I started with forestry, we might as well talk about forestry. The minister talked about a commitment to reforestation. Is there something in writing that the department has regarding its commitment to reforestation?

Hon. Mr. Lang: I think what the member opposite is requesting is - we have a line item for reforestation in our budget, but I guess what you want is a breakdown from forestry and to see how that money is being spent. I could get that to the member. I imagine that there is a breakdown for this request and a workplan about how this money will be spent.

Mr. Cardiff: That would be welcome, for sure. It's always good to see that there is money in the budget for reforestation, but it's how that rolls out and how you ensure that the work is actually being done and what forestry activity it's tied to. That information would be welcome.

There was a concern raised awhile ago about the way that the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources proceeded with issuing some timber permits in the Haines Junction planning area. The cut was 165,000 cubic metres of timber. The way I understand it from what I read in the newspaper and from talking to people is that there was some public consultation done in the year 2000. There was a report released for that area in 2001. I think what is troubling is that in the intervening time there was not a lot of information provided to the public - to the residents of the area - regarding the government's plans for that area. Instead of keeping residents in the community informed through whatever way it's done, whether in writing or going out and talking to people, very few members of the public were engaged in that discussion.

The other thing with this legislation is to enact the Yukon Environmental Socio-economic Assessment Board. The permits for this particular project were issued basically the day before that act came into effect. Therefore, the project itself wasn't subject to scrutiny under that act and the government did a self-assessment on that project.

Now, I have a little experience with projects undergoing self-assessments, and I think that the process now is much better. It's clearer to the public, but I would direct the minister to the project, basically in our neighbourhood - just across the highway from where he lives and fairly close to where I live - that it wasn't forced to go through that kind of scrutiny. That was a project that was done by the Department of Community Services - a land development project that wasn't screened under the YESAA process.

I'm just wondering what the rush was, and the rationale, for issuing a cutting permit for 165,000 cubic metres the day before it would have had to undergo the scrutiny of the YESAA process. Why would the government do that and not allow for full public consultation with the community on what the impacts of that project would be? Can the minister tell me that?

Hon. Mr. Lang: I'd like to clarify that YESAA came upon us because of an election and because of the Treasury Board. YESAA was prematurely brought forward because of the politics and what was happening in Ottawa in the federal government.

I think it was supposed to come in in December and it came in in November because of the federal government deciding to put it through Treasury Board. It wasn't anybody issuing permits before something came in. It came in and as soon as it went through Treasury Board, it had to be enacted, and that was the day it was enacted. But the permits that were handed out, or the permits you were talking about - I don't know anything about that specific permit, but there was a process in place and the process was followed. The fact that YESAA came in the next day was timing on YESAA's part. It had nothing to do with issuing permits in the forest industry.

Chair's statement

Chair: Before the member continues, if I could just remind the minister to make his comments through the Chair and to refrain from saying “you,” as the minister is, of course, making the comments through the Chair.

Mr. Cardiff: I understand that there was a political thing happening in Ottawa, Mr. Chair, and there was going to be an election called. The timeframes were advanced, but they were only advanced by a matter of a couple of weeks. It was going to come in in December. By the minister's own admission, he said that YESAA was going to come into effect in December.

I heard him say it right here in the Legislature.

Now, whether it's one day or a couple of weeks, what is the difference? What is the reasoning behind not having a project of this size go through this new process? Everybody else is expected to go through these processes now. This is something that is supposed to be groundbreaking in the Yukon to ensure that there is some independent oversight, as opposed to a self-assessment process on these types of projects. It doesn't matter whether it's a mining project, a land development project or a forestry project, there are thresholds in there that establish what type of process you have to go through.

Now, I understand that it would have probably cost a little more money to go through that process, but I think that it would be advantageous to run a project of this size through that process. Now they have announced a timber harvest in the same general area in the Kluane region of one million cubic metres of timber.

I am assuming the project in that area is going to have to go through the YESAA process. What I don't understand is why the minister wouldn't - thank you, Mr. Chair, for bringing me back - run this project through the YESAA process. That's what it was designed to do. It was designed for the benefit of industry, government and the public to have some independent oversight and input on projects like this. It appears to the public and to me that this was rushed through.

Hon. Mr. Lang: Well, Mr. Chair, it wasn't rushed through. The process was in place before YESAA. We didn't put down our tools three years ago, waiting for YESAA to be triggered. The proponent went through. The person who applied for the timber went through a very lengthy process to get the timber issued to him. As far as the member opposite's comments about the timelines, the timelines on YESAA were pushed forward. Whether it was three weeks or a month, I can't tell you, except that I know that the issue came from Ottawa . It went through Treasury Board and we were notified that YESAA was in effect.

The individual who got the permit went through an extensive process of public consultation, First Nation consultation, and all the processes that were in place before YESAA. To put that individual through YESAA again, after he went through one process, I don't think would be fair to industry. He got his timber; it was issued to him. It happened to be that YESAA was declared the next day, but it wasn't his fault. He went through the system that was in place on the day he applied for the timber. So there was a process in place. The process was followed and the timber was issued. Nobody rushed anything.

Mr. Cardiff: Well, I don't understand why residents in the Kluane area are concerned about this, then. If there was a process, why didn't it include the public? What we are hearing here is that the public feels they weren't adequately consulted about the government's plans to issue a timber harvest permit. It isn't just one person who is saying that. There are several people who feel they weren't adequately consulted. There were some people who were in the loop and there were some people who weren't in the loop.

Maybe the minister can tell me this: how do you get in the loop on these assessments to at least voice your concerns about how these projects take place?

Hon. Mr. Lang: Public consultation doesn't mean that all the public will be happy with the final decision - that's why we have consultation. As far as the forest industry is concerned, we are putting out a million cubic metres over a 10-year period, and that will address some of the beetle-kill. That is in partnership with the First Nations and the community, to make sure that we can address some of the issues the beetle-kill has brought forward. We've done that and we're moving forward with it.

Mr. Cardiff: I guess what I don't understand is why there are people who feel they weren't consulted, and they weren't included in the process that was carried out before this timber permit was issued.

There was a public process before where people were consulted and there was a report. Then there was silence in the view of many people.

Now, maybe the minister can answer this question: can he tell me, for the one million cubic metre announcement, will those applications to harvest timber under that project be subject to assessment through the YESAA process?

Hon. Mr. Lang: Yes, Mr. Chair, they will certainly be assessed through YESAA. That's the process that's here today. We are waiting for a show of interest. At that point, we will do the YESAA overview.

Mr. Cardiff: One of the other things that I am glad to hear is that the process that is now in place is the one we will be going through. The minister also spoke about forest management plans in various areas. I think there is potential for a forest industry in the Yukon , but it needs to be managed carefully. I know in my own area - just doing things like FireSmart and wind smart - when you look at the size of the trees, there is some potential for producing lumber and value-added products, but the thing is that it takes a long time up here to grow a tree that is harvestable. So even in light of the commitment to reforestation, it's going to take some management in order for the forest industry to be sustainable.

The minister has mentioned quite a few forest management plans. Some are in the works; I believe he said some were complete. I would like to actually learn a little bit more about those forest management plans. I'm hoping that the minister could provide me with some more detailed information on those management plans - exactly where we're at in each area. Could he do that?

Hon. Mr. Lang: The southwest Yukon one is done. A copy of that should be available. The Kaska Forest Resources Stewardship Council is going to bring forward southeast Yukon's plan this summer for final review, and the Teslin plan should be available within the month.

Mr. Chair, looking at the time, I move that you report progress, please.

Chair: It has been moved by Mr. Lang that we report progress.

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?

Chair's report

Mr. Rouble: Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 20, First Appropriation Act, 2006-07, and has 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.

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

The House adjourned at 6:00 p.m.

The following Sessional Paper was tabled April 27, 2006 :


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