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061 Hansard

Whitehorse, Yukon

Monday, November 26, 2007 -- 1:00 p.m.

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

Prayers

DAILY ROUTINE

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

Tributes.

TRIBUTES

In recognition of the White Ribbon Campaign

Hon. Mr. Cathers:   Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to pay tribute to the White Ribbon Campaign. This campaign launches every year on November 25, which marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women. It relies on volunteer support and financial contributions from individuals and organizations.

The White Ribbon Campaign addresses issues of public policy and encourages men and boys to speak out in their workplaces and communities against violence done to women. In 1991, a handful of men in Canada decided they have a responsibility to urge men to speak out against violence against women. They were responding to the terrible events of December 6, 1989, at L'École Polytechnique in Montreal. Outraged by that specific act of hatred and violence and by society's general willingness to turn a blind eye to violence against women, these men chose to act. They chose the white ribbon as a symbol of men's opposition to violence against women.

This year, the Yukon's local campaign is being directed by the Yukon Teachers Association. I want to acknowledge Dennis Rankin and his colleagues at the YTA for their example.

As an elected representative of Yukoners and as a man, I am proud to wear the white ribbon. As Members of the Legislative Assembly, it is our responsibility to be role models in working against violence toward women by acknowledging that women have the right to live free from physical, sexual or psychological violence at all times.

Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone nor remain silent about violence against women. Each year, men and boys are urged to wear a white ribbon starting on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, until December 6, Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

By wearing a white ribbon, men pledge never to commit violence again or remain silent about violence. The elimination of sexism and our commitment to ending violence against women are absolutely fundamental in achieving full equality for all women and in creating communities of peace and safety for women and girls. As men, we can make a choice to speak and act when we know violence is taking place. Our sisters, nieces, mothers, aunts and our children need us to demonstrate leadership and strength in our allied role to challenge and prevent violence through our actions and words. Without our actions and commitments, women and girls will continue to experience barriers to gender equality.

Men must join women who continue to work tirelessly as victim services workers and transition home workers, who often feel isolated in their efforts. As men, we must speak out against sexism and violence and strive to become allies with women to ensure that gender equality is realized in the Yukon, not least through the creation of safety and respect for all women and all girls. This is a challenge that any man can and should choose to take.

Mr. Elias:   I rise today on behalf of the Official Opposition to pay tribute to White Ribbon Day for the elimination of violence against women. Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women. November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. In Canada, we wear the white ribbons until December 6, the anniversary of the Montreal massacre and Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

Violence against women includes physical and sexual assault, sexual harassment, psychological abuse or emotional abuse.

Not all violence leaves scars. Emotional violence includes regular subjection to demeaning jokes, domineering forms of behaviour and sexual harassment. Wearing a white ribbon provokes discussion, debate and soul searching among the men around us. The ribbon is a catalyst for discussion; it is a catalyst for change. Respect for girls and women and equality between men and women are preconditions to ending the violence. This won't happen overnight. Real solutions are truly long-term solutions.

As men who care about the women in our lives, we can take responsibility to help ensure that women live free from fear and violence. It is very important that we teach our children by example that all forms of violence are unacceptable. We must pledge not to remain silent and pledge to challenge the men around us to act to end the violence. The Victoria Faulkner Women's Centre invites you to attend activities and participate in the Twelve Days to End Violence Against Women being held in the foyer of the Yukon territorial government administration building at noon on Tuesday, November 27.

I encourage you to attend and show your support. Let's all work together to change our attitudes and behaviour and take a stand to end violence against women.

Mr. Edzerza:   I rise on behalf of the NDP caucus to pay tribute to the White Ribbon Campaign and International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, November 25.

On this international day we pay tribute to those men who are taking part in the White Ribbon Campaign that begins today and extends to December 6. Men who wear the ribbon are taking responsibility to speak out against violence against women. We pledge never to commit or condone violence. We are concerned about all forms of violence, but especially when it is done against women and children.

The physical, mental, emotional and economic abuse of women is indeed disturbing. A Canadian woman is assaulted sexually every three minutes. Women are killed by their batterers every day. They are living in fear of their lives and their children's well-being. Dozens of women in the north have disappeared without a trace. We have seen graphic instances of violence against women recently in Whitehorse.

Much violence against women is hidden. What is not as well recognized is that family violence has a direct effect on the health of all family members. Babies born to women living with violence are more likely to be of low birth weight, which is linked to infant and child illnesses, disabilities and death. Maltreatment of children in their early years leads to permanent damage to the brain's development.

Violence is a health care issue. Families coping with violence against women need medical and social supports to foster the protection that reduces some of the harmful health outcomes of family violence. Even when family violence does not result directly in injury or illness, victims of abuse may cope through addictions. Drinking alcohol while pregnant is the cause of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and other alcohol-related disabilities. Smoking is known to contribute to high blood pressure, cancer, heart disease, low birth weight babies and makes for a greater risk of having children who develop diabetes and obesity. The reaction to stress by a victim of violence can result in self-destructive behaviours, such as not eating properly, or eating disorders, over medicating, suicide and mental illnesses.

When there is direct knowledge of sexual assault, particularly by strangers, police officers are inclined to warn women to watch out for their safety, not to walk at night or to be assertive in their mannerism. That is all very well, but the white ribbon reminds us that men must also take a part in prevention of violence. Rather than give women a message of fear, men's responsibility to actively support women and protect them from violence should be a first consideration.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In recognition of the Yukon Geoscience Forum

Hon. Mr. Lang:   I rise today to ask my colleagues in the House to join me in paying tribute to the 35th annual Yukon Geoscience Forum and to recognize what this event means to Yukon. The latest in exploration and research, as well as exciting industry information, will be showcased at the annual forum that opens in Whitehorse today and wraps up on November 28.

I would like to thank the Yukon Chamber of Mines for all the hard work they have done organizing this forum. The Yukon Geoscience Forum is well-respected by industry, government and academia as an event that presents the latest information on exploration, development and research associated with the mineral and oil and gas sector of the Yukon. The chamber expects over 400 participants from across Canada, including geologists, scientists, academics, service and supply companies, investors, prospectors, placer miners, mining and oil and gas companies, as well as government representation. There should be a level of excitement that we haven't seen for many years.

In October, Sherwood Copper officially opened Minto mine, the first hard rock mine to begin production in the Yukon in 10 years. The success of this mine is particularly noteworthy because it demonstrates a success that can be had when public and First Nation governments and industries work together.

In the past six years, exploration activity level in the Yukon has increased greatly. In the year 2000 we had $8 million worth of exploration; in 2006 it had gone up to $83 million; this year we estimate close to $140 million will be spent in Yukon.

The geologists from Yukon Energy, Mines and Resources' Geological Survey will be updating participants at the forum on results from this year's field work, as well as updates on some of the many exploration programs that were started this year. I encourage my honourable colleagues to attend.

I would like to congratulate the team of geologists at the Yukon Geological Survey for their excellent work and recognize their central role in the forum. We all acknowledge and appreciate the crucial role the survey plays in supporting the management and development of our resources.

In particular I would like to recognize the hard work of Grant Abbott, director of the Yukon Geological Survey. Grant has been with the Geological Survey in its many incarnations for over 25 years, and he has worked in the Yukon for more than 35 years.

This will be his last Geoscience Forum as director, as he will be retiring in January of next year. We wish him well in his future endeavours. He has made a significant contribution to the advancement of geoscience in the Yukon, and his leadership and commitment to client service will be missed.

I want to say in closing, Mr. Speaker, that the Yukon government is pleased to support the Geoscience Forum. A greater understanding of the geology and the mineral and oil and gas potential of the territory is vital to sustainable development of our non-renewable natural resources. Knowledge is a key for successful development, balanced land use planning and wide stewardship of our resources.

Mr. McRobb:   Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to the Geoscience Forum on behalf of the Official Opposition and the third party. I would like to begin by welcoming all visitors to our territory.

This year's Yukon Geoscience Forum will present several fascinating pieces of information and showcase many of the Yukon's leading mineral resource opportunities, including the recently opened Minto mine near Carmacks, owned by Sherwood Copper, an update on the Wolverine deposit, the Selwyn deposit, the Windy McKinley Terrane, surficial geology investigations in the Wellesley Basin and Nisling Range, bedrock mapping in the Kluane Range, discussion on the July ice and rock avalanches on Mount Steele -- incidentally, Mr. Speaker, those past three are all within the beautiful riding of Kluane -- the geology of the northern Whitehorse Trough, intrusion-related gold deposits at the Dublin Gulch property, the Silver Hart mine development, the perseverance of Northern Freegold Resources, Skukum Creek, the Northern Dancer project, Shell Creek, the Wernecke project, the Olympic-Rob IOCG project, the Keno Hill project, Mactung, TAG Gold project, Carmacks Copperbelt project, the Ketza River project, the Pelly Mountain VMS project, all within the Yukon Territory and more. The forum will also present overviews of activities including exploration and mining, placer mining, Yukon oil and gas.

The forum will review the licensing of mines in our territory since devolution of responsibilities from the federal government, the new realities of the Yukon Water Board and an update of the Yukon Geological Survey. 

There is plenty to do and see at this year's exciting conference. While this morning's suspension of the huge mining project at Galore Creek in northern B.C. is bound to overshadow the mood at this week's event, we believe that's more than compensated for with the realization of the tremendous potential offered in our territory.

Congratulations to all of the organizers, especially the Yukon Chamber of Mines and presenters at this year's forum. I would also like to extend our appreciation to the hardworking folks in the Yukon Geological Survey and especially to Grant Abbott on his silver anniversary.

Thank you.

Speaker:   Are there any further tributes?

Introduction of visitors.

INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS

Hon. Mr. Cathers:   I would like to rise and to ask members to join me in welcoming two constituents to the gallery, Tom Rudge and Peter Wojtowicz.

Applause

Speaker:   Are there any further introductions of visitors?

Are there any returns or documents for tabling?

Reports of committees.

Petitions.

PETITIONS

Mr. Nordick:    I rise today to present a petition on behalf of Yukoners regarding genetically-engineered crops.

Speaker:   Are there any further petitions?

Are there any bills to be introduced?

Notices of motion.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

THAT this House urges the Government of Yukon to implement a comprehensive skills and trades training strategy by

(1) providing an increased focus on Yukon College and its community campuses to establish more skills and trades training programs;

(2) placing an increased emphasis in Yukon high schools on vocational skills and trades training as an alternative path of education with corresponding investments in space, equipment and teachers;

(3) increasing the enrolment in the Yukon apprenticeship program that currently provides a certificate and on-the-job training for approximately 46 designated trades;

(4) promoting increased enrolment in the Yukon government's apprenticeship program;

(5) initiating a targeted marketing campaign to bring skilled Yukon workers back to the territory and attract new workers by advertising the opportunities that are available and the superior quality of life Yukon has to offer;

(6) working in conjunction with First Nation governments, Yukon College and other stakeholders to reduce barriers to First Nation employment to educate and train First Nation students in areas of importance to them, including their land claims settlements and development activities within their traditional territories;

(7) developing measures to encourage greater participation in vocational skills and trades training by women, such as the women exploring trades program, persons with disabilities and students who do not wish to pursue an academic education;

(8) developing measures to encourage the underemployed, school dropouts and the working poor to pursue vocational skills and trades training; and

(9) working with the territories, provinces and federal government to advance regional strategies to increase participation in the labour force and development of workplace skills.

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

THAT this House urges the Yukon government to respond immediately to the request of the Yukon Utilities Board for a full public hearing early in the new year as promised by the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources or, alternatively, provide the board with the authority to reduce rates effective January 1, 2008, for the benefit of electrical consumers in the territory.

Speaker:   Are there any further notices of motion?

Is there a ministerial statement?

This then brings us to Question Period.

QUESTION PERIOD

Question re:  Government investments

Mr. Mitchell:    I have a question for the Acting Minister of Finance. The Premier's investment decision in two asset-based commercial paper trusts is now under investigation by the Auditor General of Canada. The fourth quarterly report of the Bank of Montreal Nesbitt Burns newsletter, in referring to these types of investment, said, and I quote: "We have learned the names of brand new companies that were able to float gigantic offerings of their debt paper to investors who were eager to buy this paper in order to pick up a few basis points of yield. Those revelations recall P.T. Barnum's dictum, that there's a sucker born every minute."

In light of the very suspect nature of the original ratings, and the fact that the acting minister cannot, or will not, give the House the name of the bank she claims guaranteed these investments, will the acting minister now admit that this government was grossly imprudent with the investment of $36.5 million of taxpayers' money?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    As I have over the last number of weeks in this Legislature, I will again reiterate for the member opposite that in fact the Yukon government has indeed not lost any money on its investments. These investments are fully backed by assets, assets which have been rated, I might add, as the highest rating by Canada's primary bond service agency. These investments comprise about 15 percent of the entire Yukon government's investment portfolio. Certainly, as the member opposite referred to, we look forward to the Auditor General fully reviewing these particular investments in light of these developments. The Yukon government is not the only one to invest in these particular investments, and I do refer to Ontario. I do refer to other governments -- Quebec -- pension plans, government agencies and so forth. So we are looking forward to the restructuring process, which will conclude within a couple of weeks.

Mr. Mitchell:    Well, Mr. Speaker, I see we are still in denial. Over the past summer, defaults in a number of collateralized debt obligations, or CDOs, led to massive losses in value. As the crisis unfolded, it became clear that the models used to price these CDOs were faulty and thus the default rate on these investments is considerably higher than anticipated, yet our Premier authorized the purchase of similar CDO-based bonds.

Mr. Speaker, this is why we have the Financial Administration Act, to prevent just this kind of situation. Never is Yukon's money supposed to be put at risk. That is why this government is now under investigation by the highest financial office in this country -- the Auditor General. Will the acting minister please put down her briefing notes and admit to this House that the government has in fact jeopardized Yukon taxpayers' money by failing to follow the Financial Administration Act?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    Well, Mr. Speaker, again the Government of Yukon has been very fully transparent. And again, if the member opposite would quit reading from his paper -- with respect to the questions that he continues to raise -- maybe he would actually listen to some of the answers that I have been providing on the floor of the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, our government has been fully transparent, fully accountable for the investments made by the Department of Finance officials. Mr. Speaker, one thing that I, as the Acting Minister of Finance, and we on this side of the House will not do is second-guess the advice that is provided by the Department of Finance officials. Officials, who I might add, have earned the Yukon Territory over $18 million worth of interest on our investments over the last three or four years, compared to the $300,000 that the previous Liberal government earned in investment.

We look forward to the outcome of the restructuring process that is deemed to wrap up December 14. Furthermore, we continue to be fully forthcoming with the details with respect to these investments. We look forward to the further review of the Auditor General of Canada with respect to these investments, which we have fully -- fully -- disclosed in the last year's financial statements -- as was tabled by the Premier.

Mr. Mitchell:    Well, Mr. Speaker, when we finally get better answers we will quit reading the questions.

As parents, we teach our children to stop denying and accept responsibility for their actions. This government could obviously use some good parenting.

In the November 22, 2007 issue of the National Post, a story quoted a finance official as saying "from the government's point of view, the now notorious liquidity back-stop agreements were the equivalent of a guarantee." Allow me to translate that, Mr. Speaker: there was no guarantee. There was no guarantee then; there is no guarantee now; and that is why the government is being audited today.

Will the acting minister move quickly and appropriately to get this matter under control and to start by telling Yukoners the facts and not just the scripts from briefing notes?

Hon. Ms. Taylor:    As a parent, I can say that I also take it upon myself to put forward all the facts in front of my child, and I would expect that the member opposite would do the same in order to make a fully informed judgement call.

Certainly, that is in fact what is happening in this Legislature here today. We as the Government of Yukon have not digressed from any other investment policy of previous governments. In fact, Mr. Speaker, we take great pride in the results: five consecutive accumulated surpluses garnered by the Department of Finance under the purview of the Premier.  Five consecutive years of a clean bill of financial health deemed by the Auditor General of Canada -- unlike the previous Liberal government.

We look forward to the restructuring outcome on December 14. We certainly look forward to the outcome from the Auditor General of Canada. I have said on the record of this Legislature that we look forward to the outcome, and we will accept any findings and recommendations that are brought forward.

Question re:  Porter Creek land designation

Mr. Inverarity:   A few years ago it was revealed on the floor of this House that the government was busy trying to give away a large of Porter Creek to three separate groups: Yukon College, the City of Whitehorse and to the Porter Creek residents themselves in the form of a new park. As one city councillor said at the time, "They don't even talk to each other." Well, the answer is obvious: no, they don't.

The Government of the Yukon sent a letter to the city informing them of new final boundaries in April of this year. Can the Minister of Education tell the House whether or not the Yukon College Board of Governors supports these new boundaries?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   I would like to remind the member opposite it was a unanimous decision, a motion passed on the floor of this House, to do exactly what we did in looking at the McIntyre land situation. We got instructions from this House, which were agreed to by all members of this House. We took it very seriously, went to work and did the job that had to be done.

The decisions came from that; we're waiting for the City of Whitehorse. The official city plan has all the information and, as far as the Department of Education is concerned, the college land has been designated, as well as greenspace, and there is the issue of the creek and its environmental questions. If the official city plan moves forward, there will be opportunities for them to expand into that area with some residential lots.

Again, that decision was made here in the House when the member wasn't here, and that decision was very clear. The motion was that we would do the work that had to be done to get where we are today.

Mr. Inverarity:   In the fall of 2005, the Yukon Party government tried to carve up Porter Creek. The Minister of Education promised lands to the college; another minister said it would be developed into lots; a third minister repeatedly said the land would be turned into a park. Two years later, the new map has been produced. It protects land and allows for some development.

According to the report by Community Services, the new plan accommodates Yukon College requirements for more land. Does the Minister of Education have anything in writing from the college board that supports or agrees with the government's new plan for Porter Creek? I'd like to hear from the Department of Education, because it's their area.

Hon. Mr. Lang:   In correcting the member opposite, again, I remind the member opposite it wasn't carving up anything. We're doing the job that we're assigned to do in this House, and the Department of Education has the responsibility for the college. The land issue has been settled with the Department of Education, and the other issues have been addressed. The potential for the City of Whitehorse to move forward with expanded lot potential is there but, again, it's their decision. We will work with whatever the city decides to do in the future.

Mr. Inverarity:   Well, Mr. Speaker, the Yukon Party government has already messed this up once, and it looks like they're going to do it again. The president of the Porter Creek Community Association never saw the new map until I gave them a copy of it. City counsellors did not receive a copy of the consultation report until I gave them a copy of the consultation report. The Yukon College Board of Governors does not even support this report.

However, the new map has already been approved by this government -- so much for consultation. Why has this new map been finalized without the approval of Yukon College?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   Mr. Speaker, again, I remind the member opposite there was a motion on the floor of this House to do exactly what we did. It was a unanimous decision. It was a motion brought to the floor by the head of the Liberal Party of the day, and we honoured that motion. The motion was that we would go out and consult and work with all stakeholders to come up with a final decision on the land. The Department of Education was, in fact, consulted. The First Nations were, in fact, consulted -- and the other stakeholders in the area. The option now is for the city to move forward with their official city plan. There are some options for lots in that area. It's up to the city now to make that decision.

Question re:  Alcohol consumption statistics

Mr. Cardiff:   I have a question for the Minister of Justice. Earlier this year, the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation treated us to a litany of questionable explanations for the Yukon's staggering levels of alcohol consumption. He said it's the tourists, it's the seasonal workers, it's a small band of hard core drinkers, it's people buying upscale brands of booze.

Of course, the minister wouldn't back up his claims with any statistical information about monthly consumption of alcohol by volume, rather than dollar value. It's time we heard a more credible minister on this issue.

Does the Minister of Justice agree with the local RCMP that binge drinking, especially in young people, is a major concern?

Hon. Mr. Cathers:   I would be pleased to point out to the member that it is this government -- also at times working with the opposition on areas such as substance abuse action plans, working with stakeholders and members of the public -- that has focused on dealing with the effects of drinking to support those who have problems with addictions, to enhance treatment, to increase the investment in alcohol and drug services, to provide support through things such as the domestic violence treatment option and community courts, increased funding to the Outreach van and increased funding for youth outreach workers. We have taken steps forward -- not to mention our significant increase in funding to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon, which currently receives annually almost $400,000 from Yukon.

We've taken the approach of dealing with many of the problems in these areas, but the member's reference to alcohol sales also has something to do with parts of the population that do not specifically have an alcohol problem. While we recognize the challenges with those who over consume, there are a great many people who consume alcohol in a socially responsible manner.

Mr. Cardiff:   Wrong minister and wrong answer. An RCMP spokesperson last week said that the local detachment is on-track to have 5,000 people go through the cells this year. If November stats are any indication, over half of those people are going to be intoxicated. These aren't tourists, they aren't seasonal workers and they aren't people who are drinking Chateau Lafite Rothschild. They are Yukoners. There are young ones, there are middle-aged ones and there are probably some elderly ones as well. According to the same RCMP spokesperson, alcohol is responsible for one-third of deaths among young people. Apart from the increased enforcement announced last week, what is the Minister of Justice doing to identify and address the root causes of why Yukon kids are using booze in such alarming numbers?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   The member opposite likes statistics so perhaps I can give him a few. Nationally, liquor sales in dollars rose by 6.1 percent last year. In fact, in the Yukon they decreased by 4.7 percent. Liquor sales in litres -- looking at the quantities -- rose by 2.9 percent in Canada, but in Yukon they declined by 3.5 percent. There is a definite trend toward looking at sales and volume and everything else in the Yukon, which is by all accounts and in all areas a unique jurisdiction.

For example, looking at Dawson last year -- beautiful Dawson and the Klondike -- in July we shipped 266,686 pounds through the Yukon Liquor Corporation -- almost 267,000 pounds. In November, once the tourists had left, that dropped to just over 59,000 -- 267,000 to 59,000. In December, at the height of the Christmas season where you would expect the sales to go up, it only went up to 71,000 compared to 267,000 during the summer when the tourists were there.

Mr. Speaker, studies have shown -- studies on alcohol consumption and the addictions survey of 2005 show clearly Yukoners don't drink any more than anyone else in Canada, but we do have a significant difference with all of the tourists. We absolutely accept the fact that there are alcoholism problems here -- not related to liquor sales.

Mr. Cardiff:   The mixed messages are astounding, almost as astounding as the mixed-up ministers. Emergency medical services say that 50 to 60 percent of their calls are alcohol-related. The RCMP says alcohol is the number one factor in criminal activity, including domestic assaults. The head of alcohol and drug services says he's amazed by the number of treatment programs, yet the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation prefers boasting about marketing a whisky decanter shaped like the Yukon. The message is clear: think Yukon, think booze.

Will the Minister of Justice advise her colleague responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corporation not to trivialize or glorify one of the Yukon's most serious social problems with such a poorly conceived marketing tool?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   I do take the member opposite's comments in the context. When the Yukon Liquor Corporation copied a program that was begun in Ontario in conjunction with Shoppers Drug Mart to provide kits to allow you to give to a guest who has perhaps had a little too much to drink and you don't want them to drive -- it has overnight supplies for them -- the opposition at that time criticized us because they thought this was a crazy idea. It won national awards, Mr. Speaker, but they thought it was not appropriate.

We have a definite social responsibility through the Yukon Liquor Corporation. Yukoners consume no more liquor -- at one point, the member opposite tried to claim, simply on dollar sales when the average price of a bottle of wine went up 85 percent, that the 85 percent in sales made it look like a consumption thing when in fact the number of litres consumed was exactly the same.

I do hope that at some point the Official Opposition and third party do get on the same page and see us working with our tourists -- and working with us in our social responsibility as well as through Justice.

Question re:  Whitehorse Copper subdivision

Mr. Cardiff:   I have a constituency question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. Anyone driving into Whitehorse from the south on the Alaska Highway has no doubt witnessed the changes designed to serve commuter traffic into and out of the new Whitehorse Copper subdivision. Now, the plan is to have three major intersections, one at Mount Sima, one at MacRae and one across from the Meadow Lakes golf course. Part of that work has now been done with the new concrete boulevard at Mount Sima.

Can the minister explain, first of all, how this one project was allowed to go 300-percent overbudget?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   In answering the member opposite, we certainly have improved the highway from the Carcross Corner into the City of Whitehorse. You only have to try to get in at 8:00 in the morning and you'll understand the growth there. The infrastructure that we put into place is based on national highway regulations, and the lights should be on within the next couple of days. I understand that it's sort of a growing thing for the general public in that area but, with the national code and also the safety factor on access to the main highway, that's what the national highway regulations lay down, and we're working within them.

Mr. Cardiff:   I'll try to help the minister out. Basically, the increased costs resulted from implementing recommendations from the road safety audit, which included the national standards. But there is one glaring omission from that audit. The audit looked at the three entrances, but there is no mention of RVs turning in to or out of the Pioneer RV Park, which is right at the end of the median. When the tourist season starts next spring, the motorhomes are now going to have to contend with what is possibly the largest concrete median north of 60 degrees. A lot of my constituents and other Yukoners who travel this stretch of road every day are worried about the potential for accidents and bottlenecks at that intersection.

What is the department doing to prevent confusion and reduce risks in that part of our major traffic artery, or is what we see now what we will be left with -- and the serious problems that it creates?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   If the member opposite were to go anywhere south of 60, to junctions on main highways, they have exactly the same thing in place. This is a national code. These are safety factors and they have been engineered, so I look forward to the lighting and the signage and I look forward to moving ahead with the regulations of the national highway. I also look forward to us moving the traffic from the Carcross Cutoff as quickly as we can and eliminating any problems with access to the highway.

Mr. Cardiff:   It is amazing, Mr. Speaker. The minister drives this stretch of road every day, sometimes twice a day, maybe three times a day, and he doesn't recognize it? He should stop and talk to the people who live along the highway. The problem isn't just RV traffic near Mount Sima; there are also transport trucks turning in to and out of the MacRae area. The Mount Sima intersection is almost completed and we have yet to see if it is built right or if there needs to be increased signage or lights to warn people about the new median. There are more intersections being planned that will add traffic to the Alaska Highway at MacRae and across from the Meadow Lakes Golf Course. The safety audit says, right on page 5, that care must be taken to ensure that the safety concerns are fully addressed and that all safety enhancement opportunities are fully considered.

Will the minister commit to a full evaluation of the new highway development at Mount Sima before undertaking any similar redesign at MacRae and Meadow Lakes' intersections?

Hon. Mr. Lang:   That is exactly what we are doing. We are putting in the appropriate mechanisms so that, from a safety point of view and from a traffic point of view, we are doing exactly that.

Question re:  Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board employer assessment rates

Mr. Inverarity:   Last week, I asked the minister not responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board about WCB rate increases. I recognize that the minister is not responsible for Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board operations and administration. I accept that the minister is not responsible for setting WCB rates. I'm also aware that the minister does not want to answer our questions or accept responsibility for the hardship that ever-increasing Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board rates are causing Yukon businesses. The rates have gone up every year since the Yukon Party took office in this government.

Will the minister accept responsibility for one small part of his portfolio and tell us when Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board will appear in this Legislature so we can question the people and get some responsible answers from Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board?

Speaker's statement

Speaker:   Before the minister answers, I just want to remind the Member for Porter Creek South, we don't put prefixes in front of -- are you listening to me, sir? We don't put prefixes in front of members' titles in this Legislative Assembly. I understand the member is new, but please keep that in mind for the future.

You have the floor, minister responsible.

Hon. Mr. Cathers:   In responding to the Member for Porter Creek South, I'd like to quote his own leader to him from a broadcast this morning on a local radio station. His leader said, "Rates have gone up simultaneously with the former subsidies that existed being phased out."

The member should recognize -- as I'm pleased to see his leader does -- that a good part of the increase in cost of rates is the result of subsidies that are no longer in existence.

The member should be aware, as I indicated before, Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board will be present in the Assembly this session to answer questions. We recognize that any rate increase is not a good thing for business, but that is why this government has taken steps, such as cutting the corporate tax rate for small businesses. Our small business tax rate at four percent is one of the lowest in the country and that's cut from a previous level of six percent.

As well, our general corporate tax rate is a very competitive 15 percent. We have stepped forward in a number of areas, including cutting taxes, to assist businesses in coping with their costs. Increasing rates are not good news for anyone, but they are a matter that does reflect -- as the member's leader noted -- the cost of claims.

Mr. Inverarity:   Mr. Speaker, this minister doesn't want to take responsibility for anything at all. In response to my questions last week about Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board increasing its assessment rates, the minister stated that he did not know anything about it and it was not his responsibility. The next day, the Yukon employers were informed of yet another major assessment rate increase. For the sixth year in a row the rates have gone up, and for six years in a row the minister has denied any involvement or responsibility for the decisions.

When I asked the minister about Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board's poor performance as reported by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the minister stated again that this was not his responsibility. There is one small area that is his responsibility: what is the date the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board will appear?

Hon. Mr. Cathers:   Mr. Speaker, I would urge the member to review Hansard a little more carefully because his reflection on what he claims I said in response is not accurate as, of course, Hansard will demonstrate.

The member brought up the concerns mentioned by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. If the member would check Hansard, he would see that I noted that report and committed to talking to the board of directors at Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board about CFIB's concerns.

The member needs to recognize that the minister is specifically precluded from being involved in operational matters by the very structure of the Workers' Compensation Act and that is something that prevents operational involvement -- including rates. The minister has no control over rates. The minister is not involved in the decision to raise, lower or adjust rates. These are operational matters and, in ensuring public accountability, one step that is done to hold the board accountable, which is appointed in trust for employers and employees.

It is standard that the president and chief executive officer and the chair of the board come into the Assembly, enabling members to ask the questions directly. Of course, they will be present in this fall session for members, such as the Member for Porter Creek South, to ask those questions. 

Question re:  Harvest support program

 Mr. Elias:   Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Economic Development. Mr. Speaker, the 1998 feasibility study on the design of a harvesting support program in the Yukon made several recommendations as to why this program should and could be implemented as a viable economic development measure. The vision of a harvest support program is to get people back out on to the land for longer periods of time. The harvest support program should not be seen as a social assistance measure but rather as an economic development measure to provide Yukoners with the means to be self-sufficient. This program would support subsistence living, which would allow the ability for people to provide food, clothing and shelter for themselves. Will the minister review this report and recommendations for a harvest support program and create a viable economic development program to support subsistence living in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   Mr. Speaker, while subsistence living really doesn't fall under the purview of Economic Development, I do agree with the member opposite that it is a worthwhile thing for our regional economic development office to be taking a look at, and we will certainly continue to look at those sorts of proposals.

Mr. Elias:   Well, it's a bit of a step in the right direction, but I disagree with the minister that this is not an economic development initiative, because I feel it is. Mr. Speaker, we are living in the days of plenty here in the Yukon, and the minister should make this issue a priority and work toward the implementation of a Yukon harvest support program based on the recommendations from the 1998 feasibility study, chapter 16 of the Umbrella Final Agreement obligation, I might add. It has long been recognized that there is a pressing need for increased policy, legal and program support for hunting, trapping, fishing and other traditional activities that help Yukon communities work toward increased self-sufficiency. That's why this should be done. It should be a flexible and community-based program. The report answers two basic questions: Should it be done? Can it be done? The government of the day must answer the third question. Will it be done?

So again I ask the minister: when will he review this report and seek to implement the recommendations of a Yukon harvest support program?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   For the member opposite, certainly we have to look at that report in more detail. Having been done in 1998, as the member opposite mentioned, perhaps it was slightly sidetracked when the previous Liberal government disbanded the Department of Economic Development as part of their wonderful program to develop the economy. I do commit to the member opposite to revisit that study and have our regional economic development people take a look at it.

Mr. Elias:   I am just trying to be of assistance to the minister, and apparently he just doesn't appreciate it.

Unlike past governments, it is this government that is sitting on a $100-million surplus. They have the means to do innovative, important economic initiatives like this. The arguments presented in the harvest support program, in my opinion, are still relevant today. Assisting people to get back out on the land where they produce their own food, shelter, clothing and live healthier lives has a vast potential to reduce social and health problems and in turn eventually reduce the costs of programs that deal with these issues. I feel there is an opportunity here for this government to work in partnership with First Nation governments and the federal government to provide a significant contribution to the traditional, economic, social and cultural well-being of Yukon citizens.

Will the minister resurrect the 1998 feasibility study and make the implementation a priority?

Hon. Mr. Kenyon:   We do work very closely with First Nations on a wide variety of programs, including the targeted investment program, and we have so many meetings involving regional economic development and strategic economic development. Just within one year, the amount of money that goes into that is substantial.

I do appreciate the member opposite's suggestions and his information, and I am very glad to see that the Liberal Party has realized that perhaps it wasn't the best thing to disband the Department of Economic Development when they took government over in 2000 and that maybe the department does have a use. So, I take that as a great revelation that the Liberal Party has perhaps seen the light, and we'll certainly continue to work with the member's suggestions.

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

ORDERS OF THE DAY

Hon. Mr. Cathers:   Mr. Speaker, I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.

Motion agreed to

Speaker leaves the Chair

COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08, Department of Education.

Do members wish to take a brief recess?

All Hon. Members:   Agreed.

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will recess for 15 minutes.

Recess

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

Bill No. 8 -- Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08 -- continued

Department of Education -- continued

Chair:   The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08, Department of Education.

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   When we left off on Thursday afternoon, the Member for Mount Lorne had raised the very important issue of labour market strategies with me. I think we all agree that, as Yukoners experience record low unemployment rates and there are potentially fewer people entering the labour pool in the territory, the need for strong and important labour market initiatives and strategies has never been greater.

I'm pleased to provide a bit more information for the member opposite on several of the labour market strategies and initiatives that the government has currently underway.

The government has several ongoing programs, as well as specific targeted programs to go after specific niche areas. Some of the ongoing programs we have -- I should note, Mr. Chair, that these are housed in the advanced education branch, the area of the Department of Education that looks after these initiatives -- include our community training funds, the student financial assistance programs, student employment programs and apprenticeship training and tradesperson qualification programs.

Our community training funds -- there is a $176,000 revote in this supplementary budget. This includes a 2007-08 financial contribution of $1.5 million. It includes community-specific training trust funds as well as sector-specific training trust funds. These provide training dollars that are available to cultural industries, the tourism industry, environment and heritage, and we are also working very closely with the Yukon Mine Training Association.

Also in our training trust funds we have several project-specific programs. These provide assistance to women in trades and technology, the Yukon Literacy Coalition, the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon, Destination Canada, industrial safety, and other specific projects.

On the side of student financial assistance, I would like members to know -- and there was a bit of a question about that earlier -- that we provide the Yukon grant to over 660 students throughout the territory. We also provide the student training allowance. There are the Yukon excellence awards, the Canada student loans, the Canadian millennium scholarship and other scholarships that are available to Yukon students.

It is very interesting to note that we have over 1,100 different students now attending post-secondary institutions throughout North America. That is over 1,000 Yukoners who are now going out and continuing their education at institutions here in the territory -- for example, at Yukon College -- but also at other institutions throughout North America.

It's really interesting to note that Yukon students go to over 130 different post-secondary institutions across Canada. It isn't that Yukon students typically just go down to one school in the south. No, Mr. Chair, they go to over 130 different institutions across North America. It's great to see that our Yukoners, when they do go to school, very much have the opportunity to go to the centre of excellence for their particular field of study.

Also we have the student employment program, such as the STEP program, which provides post-secondary career-related summer employment opportunities for students and a summer career placement program. We have significant investment in apprenticeship training and tradesperson qualifications, and actually, Mr. Chair, I was looking at the numbers the other day and yet again we have a record number of apprentices registered throughout the territory. The number of apprentices has been steadily growing and we now have the most ever. Apprentice training is generally four years of on-the-job experience and in-school technical training. We also have a tradesperson qualification program, which documents the minimum number of hours in trade and allows persons to write certification exams.

Also, I'll go over some of the ongoing programs that we have in the department. We have several targeted initiatives. We have recognized that with the record low unemployment in the territory we need to engage other groups that have been under-represented or have not participated to the fullest in the past. These include working with people from outside of the territory, either from outside of Yukon or even outside of Canada, working with older workers, working with people with disabilities, working with First Nations people and with the youth.

When dealing with immigration, we have several programs, including the Yukon nominee program, the immigration portal, and the temporary foreign service worker program, which we operate with the federal government. There is the settlement services agreement, which is with the federal government. Also, we're working with a not-for-profit organization here in the territory, to provide support to immigrants; and we are providing apprentice-based funding. This is a very important issue as we have an aging population, and as there are declining numbers of people available for work, and more opportunities out there, it's important that we grow our labour pool. So we will be looking at other ways of enhancing immigration, and I expect there to be an announcement in the very near future.

Another very important sector to look at, Mr. Chair, is our older workers. For a variety of different reasons some people have become disengaged with the employment side of things. Our new targeted initiative for the older workers program is designed to help older workers to reengage with employment opportunities.

Right now, we have a two-year program going with the federal government. There is a contribution from the federal government and from the territorial government to provide a program that is operating at Yukon College right now. The purpose of this program is to develop employment skills for those 50- to 65- year-olds in order to find and retain employment in their areas of expertise. We'll have intakes here in Whitehorse as well intakes in the communities.

Mr. Chair, I had the opportunity to talk with one fellow recently who was involved as a participant in the targeted initiative for older workers. He said to me that this was the perfect opportunity for him, that it was helping him to gain the skills necessary that he needed in today's economy. It was helping him to gain the skills necessary on computers. He already had a placement lined up after the completion of the program, and he informed me that some students had taken jobs already and had opted out of the program.

So it was great to see that initiative is working, both to re-engage workers who have been disengaged from employment opportunities and also to help our employers out there who need additional employees.

One of the targeted programs is working with people with disabilities. The Department of Education is providing the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon with funds to provide one-to-one tutor sessions, tutor training and outreach services and assisted technology training.

We're also working with Challenge in order to train individuals with disabilities to obtain the basic skills required to obtain and maintain employment in the landscaping and greenhouse sector.

We're also working extensively with First Nations, with the apprenticeship preparedness program, with the Kwanlin Dun House of Learning, with the Liard First Nation Development Corporation women in trades program, with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation heavy equipment program, and also with the federal government through the aboriginal human resources development agreement.

In the youth sector, we're working on the youth employment program. That's a program for which Yukon College receives $200,000 a year to provide employment and skills training in rural Yukon communities. We're working with the Youth of Today Society to pilot a program to provide employment and skills programs for disadvantaged youth. We're working with the Yukon secondary school apprenticeship program so that students working in a trade can receive credit for the hours worked. We're also working with the Yukon women exploring trades and technology program.

I know the Member for Mount Lorne is very involved in this program. I saw him out working with the students fairly recently on how to introduce women to the world of welding and metal cutting. It was a great activity and I'd like to thank the Member for Mount Lorne for his ongoing support of it. I know he gets involved every year, and that's to be commended. It's great to see members not only working for the betterment of our community here in this Assembly, but also getting out and working with the kids.

Also we worked with Skills Canada and their great skills clubs. In the future we will be working on our labour force strategy with the Department of Education and our other partners in the territorial government, continuing to look at our training strategy and immigration strategy to ensure that they meet the needs of Yukoners, both as individuals and as employers. We will be continuing to have discussions with the federal government on the labour market development agreement. The LMDA is an agreement between the territorial government and the federal government that provides programs and services to assist EI-eligible clients to re-enter the labour force. We will be having ongoing discussions with the federal government as to how these programs can best be transferred, if that's the decision that we go with, to meet the needs of Yukoners to the fullest ability.

This is an exciting time in the department. The federal government has been looking at fully devolving the employment benefits and support measures, which are currently programs under part 2 of the Employment Insurance Act. The territorial government has been co-managing this agreement with the federal government, and now it looks like it's time for the Government of Yukon to fully devolve this program so that the Yukon government can best provide the training programs, the support programs, and other services that Yukoners most need.

I trust that that answers the member opposite's question.

We'll be working on our labour force strategy with the Department of Education and other government departments, including business, industry, Yukon College and other stakeholders. We'll be responding to the recommendations from the labour market survey recently completed by the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

I should add that we're always in a stage of program implementation and also of looking forward as to how the programs can best be changed and be updated and revised.

I trust that answers the member's question about our labour market initiatives and our strategies that are currently housed within the Department of Education.

Mr. Cardiff:   I thank the minister for all that information. Much of it was information that I received earlier at a presentation at the Yukon Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting in Watson Lake a number of weeks ago. So I thank the minister for relaying that information again.

He did touch on it briefly, but I don't know if he read the Blues and actually answered the question that I asked about the negotiations on the section 2 programs -- specifically about the transfer of responsibility for the delivery of employment insurance benefits. I'll send a copy of the page from the HRSDC newsletter in September over to the minister. What it says is, basically, "To achieve this, Canada's new government will move forward to complete the transfer of responsibility for the delivery of employment insurance benefits and support measures with those jurisdictions." I think I read that part last time. The Yukon is included that.

What I wanted to know is: have those negotiations begun? Is it the government's intention to take over those programs? The minister seemed a little vague on that -- they were looking at it. I don't know if the Minister of Education can answer this question; it may be a question for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. If these labour market programs remain with the Department of Education, I hope that the minister would lobby -- because this is like devolution. When other programs were devolved from the federal government to the territorial jurisdiction, there were protections and conditions that applied to workers who came over from the federal government. I'm just wondering if those same conditions that applied previously would apply now or if there would be a different negotiation there.

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   I appreciate the comments coming from the Member for Mount Lorne. I will take his beginning comments as an endorsement that the Department of Education does go out and work with its partners and does work with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and consults with their stakeholders and keeps people apprised of the projects that are ongoing. As the member opposite is already aware of some of these things, I will take that as an endorsement that our consultations are working.

In February 2007, the federal government announced its intention to develop a new national labour market architecture. Canada has requested that Yukon fully devolve the employment benefits and support measures that are programs under part 2 of the Employment Insurance Act. Currently this program is jointly managed by the Government of Yukon and the federal government. We do have input in the programs that are going on. These programs are designed to assist EI-eligible clients to re-enter the labour force, and Yukon will, over the next several months, develop a negotiating mandate and enter into negotiations to fully devolve these programs.

It is hoped that the agreement can be reached by early spring of next year, and there would be an official transfer after that. Fully devolving these programs will increase Yukon's participation in, and responsibility for, providing employment and training opportunities for residents in the Yukon.

Have I answered the questions sufficiently, or would the member opposite like me to go into more detail?

Mr. Cardiff:   It sounds like they are working on a mandate, and they are hoping to have an agreement by spring with implementation after that.

The other question was about the employees who are currently working for the federal government. Would they be transferring over to the territorial government, or is that part of the negotiation? Are there protections for those employees in this negotiation?

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   The federal government has said that they would like to devolve this. We're saying that we're interested in receiving this, but there are some negotiations that have to occur. Obviously, we're talking about some federal employee positions; we're also talking about some project dollars -- so those details. As the member rightly pointed out, the arrangement through which those federal employees would be transferred to the territorial government would be one of those issues that would be negotiated and would form part of this agreement. We recently went through a very successful devolution from the federal government and those areas were negotiated. I expect that all those points would be considered in this next negotiation.

Mr. Cardiff:   There is one other item that was in this that caught my eye. I thank the minister for his recognition of my participation with Yukon women in trades. It was a nice thing to see the look in the eyes of the young women who were there when they realized they had conquered -- it could have been a fear. It's not so much that they learned how to weld but they learned how to conquer that fear of something that they had never tried before. That's what makes it all worth it, I think, at the end of the day.

One of the other things in that newsletter relates to the motion that the Member for Klondike read. I didn't see or hear this part in the Member for Klondike's motion. There is an apprenticeship incentive grant through HRSDC for apprentices who have completed their first or second year of an apprenticeship program in a red seal trade. They are eligible to receive $1,000 to help cover the cost of tuition, travel and tools. I realize this is a federal program. Hopefully, this would be one of the things that was transferred over in light of the Member for Klondike's comments in his motion, but I'm just wondering whether the department notifies apprentices when they're booking their classes outside the Yukon, or when they're booking to register here at Yukon College for their first or second year, that they are eligible for this.

Is that information being communicated to those registered apprentices here in the Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Chair, the member opposite is correct. It is a federal program, and I'm not entirely aware of all the techniques that the federal government is using to communicate this program. I am aware, though, from reading the local newspapers that they have been taking out ads in the paper, calling on these first- and second-year apprentices to contact them to apply for the funding. So we should make all of the apprentices aware. The Department of Education will endeavour to contact the federal government to find out what their communication strategy on this is. Maybe we can help out by making sure that some of these notices are posted in places where apprentices might go, for example, at Yukon College or with some of the union or labour organizations. If the member has any other helpful hints as to where some of these posters should go up, I'd appreciate hearing those. We'll ask the federal government to see if they do any kind of other specific campaign.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, it's my understanding that the advanced education branch usually books the training for apprentices if they're travelling to Alberta or B.C. or wherever it is that they're travelling. I suspect that they book the training here at Yukon College for apprentices who go through that branch, so it could just be part of the communication strategy of the advanced education branch to ensure that they're aware that this grant is available and that they would be eligible for it. That would be helpful.

They might be able to make an announcement at the apprenticeship awards banquet on November 30, and that would cover off a whole bunch of them -- not all of them, but it would cover off a lot of them. I know a lot will be receiving awards.

My office sent a letter awhile back, asking for some information. One of the things we requested was a copy of the Yukon literacy strategy review. There was a review of the Yukon literacy strategy committed to -- I don't believe I have a copy of the strategy with me. My recollection is the Yukon literacy strategy was a document created in 2001 -- maybe 2002 -- and there was a commitment made earlier to do a review of that literacy strategy. I believe it was done; however, we haven't seen a copy of that review or any documentation about it. The minister may not have that information right at his fingertips, but I'd appreciate receiving it as soon as possible.

The other answer that came back in the minister's letter to our office said that literacy funding for the 2007-08 year is $4,799,000. That is almost $5 million for literacy. We'll get to where I'd like more detail later, but I'd like a breakdown of where that $5 million is actually being spent. Which programs? Is some of that money included in Yukon College's budget? I can understand it's money that goes to community associations, or associations like Yukon Learn, the Literacy Action Committee, the Yukon Literacy Coalition, the Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon -- some of it would be provided to the House of Learning -- but I'd like to see a breakdown as opposed to just a blanket statement that literacy funding is $4.8 million for this year. I'd like to know what it breaks down to.

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   I appreciate the member opposite's question. Obviously literacy funding is very important. The member has raised some of the organizations to which the territorial government specifically provides funds. These include organizations like Yukon Learn, the Literacy Action Committee, Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon, Yukon College's essential skills program, the Yukon Literacy Coalition, the Kwanlin Dun's House of Learning. It also provides programming at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre. The larger total that the member opposite is referring to includes funds that are provided to Yukon College for its programming, as well as what we do in our public schools.

There are the normal programs in kindergarten to grade 12, which are obviously designed to teach people to read and become literate and to expand their literacy skills. We have significantly enhanced that in recent years with additional programs. These include things like the Reading Recovery program in grade 1, which is a primary school program designed to assist those new readers who are demonstrating some challenges with some significant additional assistance, right off the bat. Immediately upon recognizing that there are challenges, the Reading Recovery program works with those children to help them to establish their reading skills at as young an age as possible. Educators have found that intervening, or becoming involved, at the earliest opportunity has the most beneficial paybacks in the long term. We are working very closely with our teachers and the Reading Recovery specialists to provide Reading Recovery support in our schools.

As well, we have worked very closely with our teachers and educators on the Wilson Reading System. That is another reading initiative designed to help children in the later grades -- I believe it is grades 3 to 6 when the Wilson Reading System comes into effect. Again, we are trying to work with our children as soon as we identify a challenge in their reading. We then provide additional supports and resources so that they have the benefit of being able to read as it carries them through their whole educational career.

The grand total that the member opposite is referring to, I expect, comes from our involvement in very early childhood education, with the regular curricula, with our additional reading support programs in the early years, as well as the middle years of school. As well, once we have people who do leave the school system that we need to re-engage, we have funds in our training trust funds. We also have project-specific initiatives and support for specific groups in the territory in order to help them to help others who have identified that they have literacy challenges. One of the big roles of the Department of Education is to help people to learn to read, and we do that from kindergarten all the way through adulthood.

Mr. Cardiff:   Well, the minister attempted to answer the question. Before the minister sent out this letter that he signed, he stood at the blackboard or had a piece of foolscap -- well, it was a whiteboard, he said. He made a list, such as Yukon College, $200,000. He made that list, he added it up, and it came to $4.8 million. I'm asking the minister if he could provide us with that list. I don't want it right here. He doesn't need to read it today. He could just send the list by legislative return, and when he sends that, could he also please send a copy of the Yukon literacy strategy review? That would be helpful.

The other question I have with regard to literacy is -- and we'll let this one lead into the other question, I guess, about our public education system. There is a concern that a lot of the literacy programs that we have are there to deal with the fact that we're graduating students from our public education system who haven't been successful in the public education system.

So there are a couple of questions. I guess one is: how are we measuring the success of our students who are exiting the public education system? There is some information that I believe is lacking. It is my understanding that we measure the success at graduation by how many students are enrolled in grade 12 at a certain point in the spring of the year they graduate and how many graduate. I mean, even if the measure was how many students enter grade 12 in September and how many graduate, that isn't a measurement of success for a public education system. We need what is often referred to as longitudinal data, which is: where students come in, did they participate in early childhood learning, did they attend kindergarten, did they start at grade 1, when did they exit, did they exit at grade 3, did they exit at grade 5, did they re-enter somewhere? There needs to be a better way to measure students' success to get the real numbers, for starters, as to whether or not we are measuring it properly and whether or not the system is really achieving success. That is part of why we went through that whole process with the education reform report. I imagine we'll get to talk about that sooner or later at some point in this Legislative Assembly. But there are lots of concerns about the fact that we graduate students with low levels of literacy -- students not able to read at a level just seem to be moved from one grade to another, whether they're successful readers or not.

That's one question. The other question would be: what are we doing and how are we evaluating the $4.8 million of literacy programming? The minister committed to sending a list over at some point.

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   I will endeavour to get the member a breakdown of the information he was asking for. I appreciate the importance he places on literacy. I know it's a very important issue in our community.

Last winter and early spring when we saw the federal government reduce its level of involvement and financial support for literacy organizations in the territory, I wrote a letter to the minister responsible, asking that the federal government reconsider that funding cut. I sat down with the Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations and we jointly prepared an letter for the federal minister responsible.

Literacy is an important issue to all Yukoners. As one more example of working together with our partners, I sat down with the Grand Chief and we co-authored a letter and sent it to Ottawa. As well, when the Council of Ministers of Education met, which it does twice a year, literacy levels were an important issue at that conference, and the Council of Ministers of Education jointly sent a letter to the minister responsible.

So, on the issue of literacy, not only have we as a party taken action on this, but just in this last year I've corresponded with the federal minister, we've sent a joint letter, and we as the Council of Ministers of Education have also sent a message to Ottawa, asking them to recognize the importance of literacy in the country and to encourage them to provide the necessary supports.

In the Department of Education, there is always ongoing evaluation and assessment. That's one of the key responsibilities of the teacher in the classroom. The teacher works with the students to assess how they are grasping a task or a concept and then does some of the formal evaluations. We work individually with the students, and we also look at what the combined marks are for the class. As well, we do look at the results from our Yukon achievement tests and the departmental exams. I believe the results on Yukon achievement tests form some of the information that's provided in the Department of Education's annual report, which does lay out for all to see how Yukon students are performing.

The annual report does give some very good indicators. It does do some comparatives, and it is now collecting enough data to look -- as the member opposite is requesting -- at the longitudinal results, so that now we're seeing the impact that the Reading Recovery program and the Wilson Reading System and other early intervention programs are having and how those are contributing to the success of students. It is, I'll say, a bit of a challenge when you do introduce, for example, the Reading Recovery program, in grade 1, that you then have to wait 12 years to the end of graduation to see the full effects of that program. I think having intervention as early as possible like the Wilson Reading System or the Reading Recovery program is going to have some of the best payback, but it does take that time for those students to then go through school. Of course we do look at graduation rates as an indicator. We're also working with our partners in education across the country, looking at education indicators, performance standards, performance measurements and individual growth patterns. These are areas of concern for educators around the planet.

I know that we in the territory are looking at establishing some very easy-to-understand indicators and being able to look and ask how are we succeeding, and do we know that we have the child in the environment that is most suitable to them? So we're going to continue to work with our professional educators. We're going to work with our partners, whether they be the Council of Ministers of Education, the Canadian Council on Learning, the federal government, the department responsible for statistics, to look at educational indicators and its performance indicators.

I don't think the member is encouraging the department to go in this direction, but I will just offer a note of caution. When specific tests are used, sometimes that creates an environment where a teacher teaches to a test or that the whole program is geared to doing well on a specific performance tool. I see the member opposite is kind of shaking his head, because there is more to education than doing well on one test. One test result isn't a good indicator of the chances of success of an individual. Indeed, the Education Act is much, much broader than that, with what we are supposed to educate our children on. It includes the academic, the conceptual, the aesthetic and all the other indicators and expectations that we're supposed to have in the Department of Education, and we strive to work with that so we aren't always trying to develop children that will do the best on one specific test. Instead we are working very closely with parents and our partners in education to help children to develop to have the best opportunities ahead of them and to be very productive, responsive members of society. So that involves having a breadth of educational backgrounds, as well.

To summarize, we do have instruments that we use. There are ongoing assessments and evaluations in the classroom. There are departmental exams that are written. There are the Yukon achievement tests. There is the annual report and there is the ongoing work with performance measurement and evaluation that the Department of Education does with the Council of Ministers of Education, with the Canadian Council of Learning and with other professional educators from across the country and around the world.

Mr. Cardiff:   The minister answered part of the question, anyhow. Literacy and numeracy are not just about reading and math and all that. It is about social awareness. It is about learning about your community too. It is about becoming active in your community. It is even about political awareness. All those are tools to encourage people to learn to read and do math.

I know that the previous Member for Klondike always talked about the federal government doing this. He called them "boutique" programs. There is funding provided for a project, but the frustrating part for the people delivering the training related to that project is that they see the frustration of the people who are receiving the training because the funding is provided for six months, for nine months, for 15 months, for 18 months or for two years, but there is always an end to it. People become part of it, they begin to learn, it begins to make a difference in their lives, it begins to make a difference in their community, and then the project runs out.

The minister is saying that there's $4.8 million. He's going to provide the list. He's going to provide a copy of the Yukon literacy strategy review. But we need some way of dealing with this funding problem where there is actually some core funding for some of these programs that are delivered. We also need to learn not to rely as heavily on -- I think this is an important issue for every community in the Yukon -- volunteers to deliver a lot of this literacy programming.

There are a lot of NGOs that are involved in this, and they need higher levels of funding so that they can hire people. It would be kind of an economic development thing at the same time. I'm sure the Minister of Economic Development would like to see more money in rural Yukon to provide literacy training and numeracy training in communities.

That is my pitch to the minister. How do we deal with that problem of funding?

He answered the part about doing the evaluation of students in the department, which is coming out through testing. I agree. I have been involved in the apprenticeship program and have been a tradesperson. I have talked to apprentices I helped train for the last 20-some years about their experiences at school, and being taught to an exam does not work. You can teach anybody to answer all the questions on the exam, but do they come out with the knowledge necessary to go out and be a competent tradesperson? Not very often. It does have to be broader, and you can't just teach to the test. Unfortunately, when you do that, you bring down the standard of qualifications in trades and that is something we are witnessing in some southern jurisdictions, and I hope we never see that here. If anything, we need to strive to make that standard higher, and we need to make that standard higher as well in our public education system.

He talked about evaluating in the public school system, but I'd like to know how the department evaluates funding that's given out to some of these other organizations. How do they evaluate the results that are achieved so we know we're getting the results we're looking for when it comes to literacy programming in Yukon?

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   I agree with the member opposite on a lot of his comments. Education is a very broad and far-reaching topic. Often with my colleagues, we'll be talking about an issue and they'll say that education has to be done in this area -- and that could be regarding violence against women, or outdoor pursuits, or driving properly on the highway. One of the often-used phrases is, "We have to do more to educate people about this." I accept there is a significant responsibility on the Department of Education, but education is one of those lifelong pursuits we're all involved in. We as individuals have the responsibility to go out and get additional information; our employers have the responsibility to provide additional information; different government departments and other agencies also, in their information campaigns, will provide information that educates people.

The discussion was getting quite broad here. I think we can all agree that it's the goal of the Yukon education system to work in cooperation with parents to develop the whole child, including the intellectual, physical, social, emotional, cultural and aesthetic potential of all students to the context of their ability so they may become productive, responsible and self-reliant members of society while leading personally rewarding lives in a changing world.

Mr. Chair, that's the preamble from the Education Act. In the Department of Education, it isn't $4.5 million that we spend a year on that. No, Mr. Chair, it's $118,676,000 that the Department of Education, Government of Yukon and all taxpayers invest in education here in the territory. It's that investment we make annually throughout the Department of Education that works with our schools, with our non-profit organizations, with our teachers and with our partners both on the public school side of things and then with the advanced education side of things and the labour market initiatives to provide the best possible education system here in the territory.

I appreciate the member opposite's concerns about niche funding, or boutique funding, from the federal government. I can appreciate that there are times when they do that to try out a program to see if it will work. Sometimes the projects do work and sometimes there is a realignment or a refocus that's needed in order to attain the results that they need. Also there are times when there might only be so many people out there who might be interested in a specific program, so there are reasons why it might only run for a couple of years. But it's certainly not my intention to stand up here and defend the decisions of the federal government and some of their recent decisions to cut programs. Indeed, I've done just the opposite. I've gone back to them, saying, "Hey, reconsider this. These types of programs are doing well in the territory."

Also, we as educators are always looking at better techniques or practices in order to convey the information, skills and abilities to the learners. There has been a significant change in thought or change in the pedagogical practices or the teaching practices in recent years.

They aren't so much focused on memorizing specific sections from a textbook and then repeating it on an exam. Instead, techniques today are using more experiential education, where the students are learning by doing, where there's a theme to it, or being more inclusive of the different subject matters. One of the best examples was one of the programs that ran in one of our schools -- and has run for a number of years -- and that's the Marsville project -- a very engaging program. It's sometimes focused around a space shuttle flight and students have to get involved in that. They apply science, math, communication skills, literacy skills and researching skills in a broad-themed approach.

So there have been changes in teaching practices. That's something that I'm going to continue to encourage; the government has continued to encourage that with the expansion of the experiential and vocational skills funding that was provided to the schools earlier this year. We are changing the ways that teaching and learning happen as well.

The member also asked how we go about evaluating some of our programs and how we work with the not-for-profit organizations and the not-for-profit groups in evaluating their projects. Those are done by reviewing their annual reports. In many of the projects, there's a review or reporting criteria that is built into the contract that says that specific statistics need to be gathered and reported back. In some cases, there are outside or external evaluations done, or another organization could come in, take a look, write a paper or do a review of it. There have been instances where survey groups involved have gone out and surveyed the stakeholders afterward to measure the results that have happened or the change that has occurred.

As well, we ensure that institutions like the college or the universities that we work with are appropriately accredited through the appropriate accrediting body -- whether that is the Association of Canadian Community Colleges or the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. We want to make sure we are dealing with an accredited and competent organization, so we ensure that those kinds of groups that we are working with are in good standing. Specifically, with our local service providers, we use tools like discussions with the participants, discussions with the other stakeholders that are affected and discussions with other similar organizations. We look at the statistics that are provided as outlined in the contract and we also look at the annual report -- the internal measurements that the organizations are doing.

Mr. Cardiff:   I'd like to ask the minister a question about community training funds. That was also information that was included in the letter. Again, I don't expect the minister to have this information at his fingertips, and I don't need him to stand up and read all the information into the record here. Could he just provide an expanded version of what it was he provided in his letter of November 14 to our office? I'd like a listing of all the community training funds -- and that includes whether they are community based, economic sector based or project related -- a listing of all the training funds and the projects that they have done and the amounts of money that have been expended on those projects. Could he provide that?

Hon. Mr. Rouble:  The Department of Education and advanced education provide these training trust funds in three different ways: community-based, economic sector based, and project-related based.

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   The member opposite would like the list.

Our community-based funds include the Carmacks Employment Training Society, the Community Training Trust Society with the Association of Yukon Communities, the Campbell region training fund, the Champagne and Aishihik/Haines Junction area training trust fund, the Klondike region training trust fund and the Silver Trail training fund.

The economic sector based funds include the cultural industries training fund -- also known as Music Yukon -- the Tourism Industry Association training fund, the Yukon environmental training fund -- which I believe is administered through the Yukon Conservation Society -- and the Yukon heritage training fund.

Some of the project-related funds go to Challenge, women exploring trades and technology, Literacy Action Committee, Whitehorse Correctional Centre, Learning Disabilities Association of Yukon, project construction management training, the Carcross-Tagish First Nation heavy equipment operator program, Yukon Foundation -- which is part of the Alberta centennial scholarships administration initiative -- Skills Canada Yukon, the targeted initiative for older worker program -- which is done in conjunction with the federal government -- the Yukon Literacy Coalition, Sundog carving program, Destination Canada.

The apprenticeship-based funding includes funding for industrial safety for the Council of Yukon First Nations log building, women in trades and technology, piping trades, sheet metal, Yukon College, welding, pre-employment at Yukon College, the APP video conferencing, the electrical program at Yukon College, Kwanlin Dun's House of Learning, Yukon College workplace literacy training, immigration, enhanced language training and other training including work with the social assistance project and with the Liard First Nation Development Corporation women in trades program.

I will ask the Department of Education if that is a complete list or if there are other initiatives and, if there are, I will happily and proudly forward it on to the member opposite.

The training trust funds are a good tool we have in the territory. They allow us to be responsive to the specific needs going on in a community as well as to the specific needs in a certain sector of the economy. By being responsive to community needs, we can help the community to respond to those economic initiatives that are going on in their community -- for example, working with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation on the heavy equipment program to develop the skills necessary for individuals there to work on the Atlin Road reconstruction project -- I see I have the interest of other members of the Assembly, perhaps those with a prior interest in Atlin. I'm sure we all have a continuing interest in Atlin and our neighbours to the south, especially those of us in the beautiful Southern Lakes. Remember, the only way to get to Atlin is to go through the beautiful Southern Lakes -- unless, of course, you fly.

For example, there we are working with the Carcross-Tagish First Nation to ensure that individuals there can respond to the employment initiatives that are going on in the community. That wouldn't be the same in other communities, for example in Mayo, where we have to be responsive to other needs going on there, or they might need people with skills more in line with surveying or work going on with the recent -- I shouldn't say recent; it has been five years since the Yukon Party came into power, so we've seen a recent upsurge in economic development there and its expansion into some of the mineral exploration work going on.

These training programs are a great tool and I look forward to working with all my colleagues in the department and the government offices to see they continue, so we can best serve the needs of all Yukoners.

Mr. Cardiff:   Mr. Chair, I look forward to receiving the list from the minister with the breakdown of what funds are available in each specific training fund and where those funds have been expended and on what projects.

I know that there was an announcement earlier this fall, I believe it was, about a new curriculum. I think it was for grade 5. It focused on traditional knowledge, First Nation culture. I'm not sure it was new, so it may be too soon to ask the minister how well it is going as far as if it is being implemented and how well it is being received in schools. I would like to know that, if the minister has that information. I would also like to know what other First Nation curriculum projects the department has underway and with whom they're working on those curriculum projects. When we were in here a year ago, this was one of the issues -- along with governance -- that was key to ensuring the success of the education reform project. The education system has to reflect more accurately First Nation culture and traditional knowledge so that it's relevant to the community as a whole, and it's more relevant to First Nation students who are in the system.

The question is this: do we have any early reports on the success of what the department put out there earlier this year? What other plans are in the works? What other progress is being made in this important area of education?

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Chair, I'm very proud to announce that the government has allocated over $1.5 million since 2004 to develop First Nation curriculum materials and resources. I'll start with one of the branches in the Department of Education. It is a new unit that was created in August 2006, and that is the First Nations programs and partnerships unit. This unit is responsible for ensuring that the perspectives and views of Yukon First Nations are reflected in initiatives and programming in the Department of Education.

The unit is dedicated to building productive relationships with First Nation communities and improving the results of First Nation students in the kindergarten to grade 12 system, working toward an increased level of cultural inclusion in Yukon schools and providing direct and indirect to Yukon First Nation schools -- to a degree school councils, and the department. The department works very closely with the Yukon First Nation Education Advisory Committee and has regular meetings with the staff from the Yukon Chiefs Committee on Education and the Council of Yukon First Nations.

Mr. Chair, the Yukon First Nation Education Advisory Committee includes representatives from the various different First Nations throughout the territory. It could include school council members or CELC members. Those are the community education liaison coordinator positions. It is co-chaired by the assistant deputy minister responsible for public schools and a representative from the Yukon Chiefs Committee on Education.

We recently had a meeting -- less than a month ago. It was very well attended. It was a couple of days where the First Nation Education Advisory Committee met with the First Nation program and partnership unit with the senior management from the Department of Education, as well as our curriculum people and school superintendents and other professionals in the Department of Education.

The unit is responsible for First Nation education programs, for First Nation language programs in Yukon schools, for curriculum and resource material adaptation and development, for in-service and training for teachers, for working with the CELCs -- cultural education and liaison coordinators -- and the elders in curriculum delivery. Also, it works with professional development for teachers, administrators and department staff for the delivery of the First Nation culture and language program. It's quite a wide range of activities that the Yukon First Nations programs and partnerships unit has been involved in and I'm very proud of the work to date. I know they've only been there for a fairly short time -- only since August 2006 -- but in that short amount of time they've been able to make a difference, not only in the Department of Education, but also with our teachers and with our students.

With respect to some of the curriculum that has been developed, the Department of Education is working in partnership with First Nations to develop curriculum materials and resources. This is through the Yukon First Nations programs and partnerships unit. The department has recently released a new handbook, called An Introduction to First Nations Resources 2007-08, to help teachers include a First Nation perspective throughout the curriculum. We're always ongoing in developing Yukon-based materials as it's essential to ensuring that all students learn about the history, cultural tradition and important role of Yukon First Nations. We're demonstrating this commitment. The government has allocated over $1.5 million since 2004 to develop First Nation curriculum material and resources. One of the subcommittees under the First Nation Education Advisory Committee is the curriculum working group. This working group is representative of each language group in the territory.

The First Nations programs and partnerships unit has finished and is piloting this fall four grade 5 Yukon First Nation modules on governance, clans, languages and citizenship. The department is currently working with the curriculum working group on grades 3 and 4 First Nation governance units, a grade 12 First Nation studies course and text, and four early primary readers reflecting Yukon First Nation people. They have recently developed 11 early readers focusing on Yukon First Nation culture in collaboration with First Nations and teachers.

If members opposite haven't seen those books, by all means stop by my office and you can borrow some of my copies. They're small early readers, but they include the type of conversations that one sees and hears in Yukon community life. There are books about making tea with grandma. One of the other neat things about it is it includes pictures taken in our own communities and of people that we would probably recognize. From all the accounts that I have heard, those readers have been very well-received throughout the territory, in all of our schools, and that the children are enjoying reading with them. The teachers are enjoying using them. The parents are having fun with them, too, because they get to see some friendly faces in there.

The member also asked about the grade 5 program, which is the Yukon First Nation modules on governance, clans, languages and citizenship. He is correct. That was introduced earlier this fall. It's still early to tell, but the accounts I've received -- again, the students are enjoying it. The teachers are enjoying it, and it's important that they're learning the cultural information that is important in their community.

It will be very interesting to now go out to those communities and talk with some of those kids to see how much of what they've been taught has been retained and to see how that's changing some of the discussions and dialogues they might have with their parents, elders and other people in the community.

We'll constantly be looking at developing new curriculum, and we're constantly asking the question, "Is it the right curriculum?" That's one of the things about education, Mr. Chair; we're always sitting there, asking if we're teaching the right information, teaching it to the right students and teaching it the right way. Are we testing to make sure they're learning and that what they're learning is important to the overall objective of education? I discussed some of that when I quoted from the preamble of the Education Act.

Mr. Cardiff:   I thank the minister for that information. It sounds like we're making some progress. The evaluation on how this is working out remains to be seen, and I'm optimistic that, if we are doing it in partnership with CYFN, First Nations and communities, we will hopefully achieve the results we're looking for.

The minister mentioned $1.5 million since 2004 for First Nation curriculum and resources. I'm uncertain if that's half a million dollars a year for three years or how it's broken down. It doesn't really matter how it's broken down, but I think this sends a signal to the Yukon public about the importance we place on our education system and the relevance of it. I would encourage the minister to search in his upcoming budget this spring so hopefully we can see some increases so we can dedicate more resources toward this area and spend more time working in partnership. Hopefully, that will translate into working in partnership at other levels, such as at the governance level, of our education system.

I could probably ask questions all afternoon here, but I know that the days are growing short. So I'm going to try to limit myself to just a few more questions. I'd like to know what the minister and the department are doing. The Yukon native teacher education program has been running for almost 20 years at Yukon College. There are a lot of teachers out there -- not enough maybe -- who have gone through that program. We need to see more of them. The program is basically designed to train elementary school teachers. I know from talking with parents and talking with some of the young people who attend our high schools that there is a need to have more First Nation instructors at the high school level, and that requires some further training specific to completing undergraduate degrees in different teaching areas. There needs to be high school education training. The other area that I think is important, and it sends another strong signal to the children in our schools and it sends a strong signal to our communities throughout the Yukon, is having First Nation administrators in our schools. We have a program for training elementary school teachers in the Yukon, and they're capable of getting other training.

What programs is the minister pursuing so that we will see more First Nation instructors at a high school level, more First Nations involved in the administration of the schools and in the department and in other areas, whether it be in planning and policy, curriculum development, superintendents or managers?

What programs and what initiatives does the department have to address that issue?

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   Mr. Chair, the member opposite has raised a good point here and that is: how can we encourage more Yukoners to become teachers, and not just in the early primary grades but also at the secondary school level. I'm going to take it a step further and say at the Yukon College level and throughout our community campuses.

There are a number of different programs that we have in place here in the territory. The member is right about the Yukon native teacher education program, which does a very good job of working with Yukoners to provide them with the training, skills and education that they need to obtain their teaching certification and then to teach in Yukon's school system. We do need more people of more varied cultural backgrounds to be teachers in our system. We also need to see more gender mix. Personally, I think we need to see more men in our public school system -- we need to look at that too.

We also need to look at opportunities for ongoing teacher education so that they can develop the skills to carry them through so that they can take advantage of other opportunities. We had a bit of a discussion on Thursday about some of the training opportunities out there. Right now the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Yukon Teachers Association, provides funds for professional development to assist those teachers who are currently in the system with their ongoing training -- whether that is looking at specific course areas or looking at developing the skills and characteristics necessary to teach some of the later grades.

We also work with our teachers on mentorship programs so they can move into administrative programs, such as being a school vice-principal or principal. We're working with other educational institutions to provide training opportunities up here. I know there are discussions going on with the University of Regina. It is the institution that Yukon College works with on the Yukon native teachers education program, or YNTEP, and I believe there are ongoing discussions with them as to how to expand or change that program, or add to it, in order to meet the ongoing needs in the territory, whether that's looking at things like different streams in education -- for example, doing a master's in educational leadership or a master's in mathematical literacy. I believe it was brought up the other day that there was a cohort of Yukoners who had done a master's degree in mathematical literacy up here. That was done by distance education.

We'll continue to work with Yukon College and some of our other education providers to ensure those opportunities are here. Other colleges and universities throughout Canada offer additional training in these areas, some of which are available by distance.

To summarize, we are always looking to ensure we have the best teachers possible in our Yukon schools. They need to have the right skills and subject matter expertise that we need. We also want our schools to be reflective of the culture and gender balance in the territory. We'll work with our teachers to provide them with opportunities to continue their professional development, whether that's a regular PD day or ongoing programs they might take advantage of through the professional development agreement that the territorial government has with the YTA.

We'll also work with the training and educational institutions: Yukon College, University of Regina, University of Alberta, Royal Roads University -- I should add the Vancouver Community College to that mix. The Vancouver Community College continues to work in partnership with Yukon College to provide the B.C. provincial instructors diploma program. This is a program that is designed for people who have significant subject matter expertise to give them the skills, characteristics and abilities to teach in a community college setting. It goes into areas such as curriculum design, educational media, testing and evaluation. It is a course designed to help someone with significant subject matter expertise like, for example, a welder. If a welder is looking at becoming a teacher at the community college level instead of being a welder, they can take the BCPID program, which gives them the credentials required by some institutions to teach college-level courses.

I believe that Yukon College will continue to work with the Vancouver Community College to offer that program in the territory, and will continue to work with other educational institutions to either provide opportunities for Yukoners to go there or, if we can use distance education, where the information can come here, in order to best develop our teachers and to give them the skills that they need to help our students and learners in the territory continue to learn.

Mr. Cardiff:   I hope the department works diligently to encourage those people who are interested to become more involved in the education system -- those who have an interest in education to become more involved, especially in those areas in high school and in the administration of our system, both at the school and at the department level.

The risk of going back to this report -- it's actually a request for proposals and terms of reference. This is about the secondary school programming study. If the minister wants to follow along in the contract specifications, one of the things in the project description on page 9 is to gather input from department personnel, teachers, administrators, students, parents, First Nations and -- and this is the one -- members of those communities sending students into Whitehorse for secondary programs and others, as recommended by the committee -- and we heard the list the other day, so I won't go into that list of people who are on that committee. I'm just wondering what the minister's thoughts are on this. The study is focused basically on programming that, in my mind, could be transferable. It's not just necessarily for students in Whitehorse, because there are high school programs in communities and hopefully they want to learn the same stuff that the kids in Whitehorse do. I'd be interested in knowing whether or not that programming information is going to be transferable.

One of the recommendations in the education reform project final report draft 2007 talks about looking at high schools, secondary schools, in communities.

I'm just wondering how this all fits together, whether the government and the other partners in the education reform project will weigh in on this idea of having more high school programming in communities and how that will affect the work being done in this report.

I'm just wondering if the minister can briefly elaborate on that and tell me whether or not the information on the programming part of this study will be transferable to communities that may or may not end up with secondary school programming in their community?

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   One of the key recommendations that came forward in our school facilities use study that was done earlier this year was that we review the program direction of F.H. Collins Secondary School and prepare a vision for the future. It's an opportunity to review the program direction of the school and then define the building requirements of that school. It's an important step to take.

It's a necessity, and we have started that process. The member opposite also brought up the terms of reference, and that includes the minimum group of people to consult with or to have considered in this. I'm sure the people involved in doing this will get information from as far and wide as possible and practicable in developing their recommendations.

It has to encompass the changes in instructional technique; it has to respond to the needs of the community; it has to take into consideration some of the programming that we currently have going; it does need to be aware of the whole environment of education and we do have to recognize that F.H. Collins is currently the school that many people from Yukon communities go to. That's where Gadzoosdaa residence is. It is a requirement of this study that the considerations of those who are sending their children in from outside communities be taken into account when preparing for the recommendations from this study. The member opposite, I think, has a copy of the terms of reference. If he'll refer to page 9 of 21, he'll notice that, at stage 2, one of the key points is that it will involve gathering information from and working with stakeholders to develop a common vision for secondary programming in Whitehorse, that could transfer to secondary programs for the territory.

So, yes, Mr. Chair, it will be very important that we take into consideration the information that comes from people from outside of Whitehorse who send their children to school here. As well, I expect that this information will be of use to our current community high schools, so that they can take a look at the information that was raised and some of the thoughts, ideas, themes and trends that are being put forward. It will be of assistance to others, should the transfer of education ever occur. I think it's an important tool. We'll always listen to people in the communities. We are looking to the future. When one builds a high school, one isn't building for the next two or three years; we're looking at building a structure that will serve the community for generations and for decades to come.

We also need to keep in consideration some of the population trends, the demographics, the new technologies that are available. I mean, the advent of distance education has had an impact on children's education in the Yukon. The advent of the Individual Learning Centre has also changed our educational landscape, so to speak. It is another avenue for learners to utilize. The short answer for the member opposite is yes. The information gathered will be of use to folks in other communities. And yes, the opinions and thoughts of people in other communities will be taken into consideration in their report.

Mr. Cardiff:   I'm glad the minister read it. I'm glad he knows that it is transferable. So, if it is transferable and there is a decision made to go with more high school programming in communities and to maybe create high school programming in communities that don't currently have it, what impact does that have on the programming and facilities study portion of this report? Because that is one of the recommendations in the education reform report final draft of August 2007. It is to look at expanding secondary programming in communities. So if that decision is made by the minister and the partners in the education reform project, what impact does that have on this study when it comes to the actual physical facilities in Whitehorse?

 We all know -- I mean, just briefly, the minister knows this so I probably don't have to say it. But just so that he is aware, my thinking on it is that, when it comes to education, I think you learn best in your own community, where you have the support of your community, where you have the support of your parents, your brothers, your sisters, your aunts, your uncles, your family, as opposed to necessarily transferring students from smaller communities to Whitehorse. So it's whether we're taking that possibility into consideration when they do this report.

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   Yes, we are taking that into consideration. If one looks at the programming that goes on in high schools in rural Yukon communities today as opposed to 20 years ago, I'm sure they will see a difference. Our rural schools will always strive to be responsive to the needs in the community and to provide the best education possible to their children. That could mean expanding programs, taking advantage of distance education, working closely with Yukon College in the community and, if all those things happen, what would that mean? Well, that would probably mean fewer students from Yukon communities coming into Whitehorse.

I think we also need to consider some of the other reasons why students come into Whitehorse. Some of them come into Whitehorse to participate in sports activities that aren't available in their communities or to take advantage of increased levels of competition or coaching.

Some of them move into Whitehorse to go to school because that is where other parts of their family are and they want to be closer to them.

Yes, increasing the programming for rural schools could decrease the number of rural students coming into Whitehorse. At the same time, we do see other factors that influence the decision of parents to send their kids to a school in Whitehorse.

We also have some schools in the territory and in some communities that have very small populations where I expect that they will continue to send their children into Whitehorse. What we want to do is increase options. I think having options in a high school system is one of the best things that it can have. Giving the student or learner the option of taking a variety of different courses or different streams is healthy. I think that having the option of staying in your community or going into Whitehorse is a good one.

We will always work to meet the needs of students. I expect the educational system will enhance the learning opportunities for students in rural communities and then, if they do come into Whitehorse, we will work with them then to provide the best education possible.

We are also looking very closely at population trends, the demographics, birth rates and areas where the population is growing. Those factors are all considered by the Department of Education.

Mr. Cardiff:   I have just one quick question for the minister. I'm not sure why this hasn't been dealt with or where it's at, but there was concern about the condition of the college facility in Pelly Crossing. Quite frankly, I can't believe this is still ongoing. It has been like that for 10 or 15 years now. The condition of the college facility in Pelly Crossing has never been all that great, and I can't imagine it's all that easy to fix up. It's similar to the situation where it's cold and there are moisture problems; it's an old building; it's not a facility that is actually designed as an education facility.

I know in some communities there have been facilities provided in public schools. I don't know if that has been explored, or in other areas such as First Nation administration buildings, where the government has leased or provided space in those types of facilities.

I know, from my past experience with Yukon College, that the facility is long overdue to be replaced. I'm just wondering what the department is doing in that area.

Chair:   Order please. Committee of the Whole will recess for 15 minutes.

Recess

Chair:   The Committee of the Whole will now come to order.

The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08, Department of Education.

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   The Yukon government is committed to supporting Yukon College and its community campuses in order to provide a variety of training opportunities for all people in the Yukon. I think we have done a very good job of demonstrating this commitment and living up to it in the last couple of years.

We have seen an increase in facilities here at the Ayamdigut Campus in Whitehorse with the creation of the new residences at Yukon College and how that is serving the needs in the community. That is an opportunity for those in rural Yukon to come to the Whitehorse campus and have a place to stay in beautiful new facilities that are suited not only for individual students, but also for students with children.

We have also made a significant commitment, and we have lived up to that, with the creation of the School of Visual Arts in Dawson and we have worked with our partners there -- the Tr'ondek Hwech'in and --

Some Hon. Member:   (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Rouble:   I appreciate the member's interest in a specific community. We're getting there. The government has worked very closely with the Tr'ondek Hwech'in, with Yukon College and the Dawson City Arts Society. In fact, this supplementary budget that we are here debating today does include funding for the School of Visual Arts.

I appreciate the situation in Pelly Crossing. I have been to that campus. I did have an opportunity to have a full tour of the facility there and to talk to people in the community. I will raise some of the ideas that the member opposite has brought forward with the Yukon College Board of Governors. The Yukon College Board of Governors does make many of the decisions regarding their facilities, but I like some of the options that have been put forward. I wouldn't see them as being a long-term solution, but they may be an interim solution. I will bring that forward with the Yukon College Board of Governors and ask that they look at it.

As for ongoing and continued investments in rural communities and living up to the needs of the communities, I believe we have four more years of the mandate left and I expect to make significant investments in many Yukon communities before the end of my term as Minister of Education.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate? Seeing none, we'll proceed line by line.

Mr. Cardiff:   Mr. Chair, I request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 3, Department of Education, cleared or carried, as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 3, Department of Education, cleared or carried

Chair:   Mr. Cardiff has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 3, Department of Education, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:  Agreed.

Chair:   Unanimous consent has been granted.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $2,782,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $2,143,000 agreed to

Department of Education agreed to

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now proceed with Community Services. Committee will recess for five minutes.

Recess

Chair:   I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. We will be dealing with Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08, Department of Community Services.

Department of Community Services -- continued

Chair:   Is there any further general debate on Community Services? Seeing none, we will proceed line by line.

Mr. Fairclough:   I request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried, as required.

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried

Chair:   Mr. Fairclough has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 51, Department of Community Services, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:  Agreed.

Chair:   Unanimous consent has been granted.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $2,783,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $14,515,000 agreed to

Department of Community Services agreed to

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now proceed with Tourism and Culture. The Committee will recess for five minutes.

Recess

Chair:   Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08, Department of Tourism and Culture.

Department of Tourism and Culture -- continued

Mr. Edzerza:   I don't have any questions of the minister, so I would request the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines of Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried, as required. 

Unanimous consent re deeming all lines in Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried

Chair:   Mr. Edzerza has requested the unanimous consent of the Committee to deem all lines in Vote 54, Department of Tourism and Culture, cleared or carried, as required. Are you agreed?

All Hon. Members:  Agreed.

Chair:   Unanimous consent has been granted.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $916,000 agreed to

On Capital Expenditures

Total Capital Expenditures in the amount of $623,000 agreed to

Department of Tourism and Culture agreed to

Chair:   Committee of the Whole will now move on to Public Service Commission, Vote 10. We will recess for five minutes for officials to arrive.

Recess

Chair:   Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. The matter before the Committee is Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08, Public Service Commission, Vote 10.

Public Service Commission

Chair:   We will now proceed with general debate.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I'm pleased to have this opportunity to speak about the Public Service Commission budget for 2007-08 and bring you up to date on the accomplishments of the Public Service Commission.

The Public Service Commission is requesting additional funding of $1.3 million in support of a number of initiatives that include the following: the collective agreement and managers agreement increases, document shredding and recycling centre, job evaluation system for managers, recruitment incentive fund, the long service awards, PeopleSoft systems, and the corporate health and safety audit, as required by the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board. I will walk through each of these items to provide more detail.

First, $660,000 is included for wage settlements. The increases for bargaining unit employees were negotiated between the government and the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a Yukon employees union. This agreement provides certainty of wage levels for three years.

Second, we are proud to announce that the document shredding and recycling centre is now a core operation within the Public Service Commission after a one-year pilot.

During the pilot project, approximately 70 tonnes of material was diverted from the landfill or burning. Under the leadership of the job coach, this project employs a team of employees with disabilities who shred and recycle confidential and outdated materials. This centre was recently relocated to the Raven Recycling building. This budget provides for $60,000 for the 2007-08 year.

The third request is for implementation funding for an updated job evaluation system for managers. The current system is over 20 years old. The new system has been tested and is ready to be implemented effective January 1, 2008. This budget revotes $71,000 from the 2006-07 budget for a portion of the design contract and $96,000 for the implementation costs.

Next is a recruitment incentive program that has been established to support staffing for difficult-to-fill positions. A budget of $1 million has been allocated over three years; $200,000 is being requested for 2007-08. The funding will be used to address recruitment and retention deficits within the Yukon government. While the incentive program budget is in Public Service Commission, all departments have access to it.

The fifth item in the Public Service Commission budget request is for the long service awards. These awards are a long-standing tradition with cash awards and a luncheon banquet. Each December, employees from communities and a guest also travel to Whitehorse to enjoy this event that is a tribute to our employees and a thank you for the years of dedication and service. Awards are given for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and, yes, Mr. Chair, even 35 years of service.

Not unexpectedly, our statistics show that the fastest growing group of employees receiving long service awards are those with 20 to 30 years of service. This means an increase in the amount being paid in cash awards, and there has also been an increase in the catering and hotel cost associated with these events. This budget request is an additional $50,000 for 423 employees who are receiving long service awards this year.

Next, Public Service Commission is requesting $34,000 for software licensing for our human resource information system, PeopleSoft. A new contract was struck with the supplier just at year-end, resulting in the requirement to revote $13,000 from the fiscal year 2006-07 and request an additional $21,000 for the commitments under this agreement.

PeopleSoft is a human resource management tool used by all government departments.

The final $150,000 in the Public Service Commission request is for a corporate audit looking at workplace health and safety. Under the direction of the health and safety leadership committee, a compliance audit is being completed as required under the July 2007 Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board order that came out of the investigation into an employee's death that occurred in 2006. The action plan for the audit was completed as required by September 30, 2007. The audit will be carried out according to this plan, beginning with the higher risk areas. The interdepartmental committee includes representatives from the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, the Public Service Commission, Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board, higher risk work areas and the unions.

Several other Public Service Commission initiatives are being undertaken within the "Investing in Public Service -- servicing Yukon people framework", which was introduced in 2005-06. With a budget of $1.382 million, IPS has been providing funding for programs focusing on successive management and employee development to the best position in the public service to deal with our aging workforce and to emerge as an employer of choice in an increasingly competitive human resource market. Safe and healthy workplace initiatives include a plan to improve return-to-work processes for employees who are experiencing disabling conditions. A fieldwork safety program that provides support for departments as they address various employee health issues and work to create well-functioning, health and safety committees in the departments.

Awarding people for excellence, or APEX, an employee award and recognition framework was officially announced in June 2005. The APEX framework is the basis for the Premier's award of excellence and departmental employees' recognition programs. The third Premier's award of excellence presentation ceremony was held in September. The 2008 process will begin early next year.

I also want to note that we are seeing a great measure of success with the GradCorps internship program, which is part of the succession planning component of the IPS framework.

Seven recent Yukon post-secondary graduates are current interns in the third intake of the program. Seven people from previous intakes are currently employed in the Yukon government.

The next initiative that I want to take this opportunity to highlight is the First Nation Training Corps. The representative public service consultant in the workplace diversity employment office manages the FNTC program, works with the departments and First Nation governments to provide technical advice, facilitates secondments between the Yukon government and the First Nation governments and assists First Nation individuals through the staffing process. FNTC places arrangements in durations of one to two years. There are 10 additional requests for FNTC positions that could not be funded in 2006-07. This resulted in a $300,000 increase to the budget, which is now $803,000 per annum. So far, in 2007, eight participants have completed their FNTC training. Three were hired by the Yukon government; two were hired by the First Nation government; one was hired by the federal government; one is receiving further training through an internal promotion; and one has returned to Yukon College.

Before I close, I want to add a thought regarding the work of public servants generally and of the Public Service Commission in particular. As ministers, and indeed as members of this House, we often focus on the program work that is clearly indefinable in budgets, but there is so much more that goes on every day. I want to take this opportunity to thank the front-line employees for their professional approach and dedication. Their work may not be high profile, but it certainly is the foundation of our service to the Yukon people.

With that, Mr. Chair, I will close and invite questions of this first supplementary budget for the Public Service Commission.

Mr. Fairclough:   I would like to respond to the minister in his opening remarks on this supplementary budget. I do have a couple of questions and one is in regard to the long-service awards. My concern is that this department is not recognizing all the employees for the amount of time and years that they put into the Yukon government, as far as work goes. I would like to express that first of all, and to ask whether or not there is any avenue to have this issue dealt with. This has been a concern brought to us by a government employee who was not recognized for the number of years that they worked for the Yukon government.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I'm not really sure I understand his question per se, but if there is a break in service, then that service is not recognized. It is continuous service that is recognized. However, if a member goes from auxiliary to permanent employment, then that service is recognized in the process of the long service awards.

Mr. Fairclough:   I have a concern with that too -- that the government only recognizes continuous service when people have put their time into the public service and government. I'm hoping that perhaps this department can review that and recognize people for the time they put in as an employee in this government, Mr. Chair. Perhaps the minister could look into the whole issue of auxiliary and temporary employees also, because there is recognition for their contribution as employees of the Yukon government.

I'd like to carry on. I heard the minister talk about the First Nation employees and the training corps. I've read the numbers -- I don't have it in front of me at this point -- but I asked this question in the past: is the department satisfied with the number of First Nation employees in this government, and what is the department doing to increase the numbers? Is the department going to recognize that First Nation employee numbers should equal their percentage of the Yukon population?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Of course, we are always looking at ways to improve the participation of First Nations in the government. As I said, one of our programs -- the First Nation Training Corps, or FNTC -- is one of those programs where we're working with the First Nation on trying not only to get them to improve their capacity for the First Nations, but also to look at strengthening the number of our First Nation employees within the government.

The Yukon government works to develop the representative workforce through various initiatives. For example, the staffing process -- public information sessions to help people prepare for applying for work with the government and to help them get ready for interviews, referenced and restricted competitions, the Workplace Diversity Employment Office, including the First Nation Training Corps, temporary assignments between the Government of Yukon and the First Nation governments, and core strategies and corporate representative public service and the traditional territory RSPs.

As of December 2006, as the member knows, the results of the Yukon government workforce census showed that approximately 14 percent of our responding employees are aboriginal. And according to the 2001 Canadian census, aboriginal people represent about 23 percent of the whole Yukon population and approximately 19 percent of the population is aged 25 to 64.

With respect to that, as I said, the Workplace Diversity Employment Office was created to promote the diversity of the workplace. One of the members on the committee is a representative public service consultant who is responsible for the First Nation Training Corps, which is a direct result of that committee.

We also have several positions that were attained through the FNTC placements. Position levels include the following: an economic development officer, a labour market development officer for Education and a curriculum resource developer for Education, an industrial training consultant, a GIS technician for Energy, Mines and Resources, a hydrology technologist for Environment, a park ranger, a human resource advisor for Environment, a fish and wildlife planner, First Nation staff for the Executive Council Office, and a network administrator for Highways and Public Works.

Also, there is a communication officer for Highways and Public Works, human resource assistants for Highways and Public Works, and a probation officer for the Department of Justice. We have recruitment and staffing assistants for Public Service Commission, as well as a departmental receptionist, and a communication officer also for Public Service Commission. Basically, Mr. Chair, we're looking at approximately 20 positions in approximately eight different departments. Approximately 50 percent of those are joint with the First Nation.

Mr. Fairclough:   Recently, there was an announcement of an 11-percent increase by Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board. I would like to know what the government's rates are and what this means as far as a dollar amount for government?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   We are currently sitting at a rate of $2.02, and it's projected to go to $2.14.

Mr. Edzerza:   Mr. Chair, I just have a couple of questions with regard to the First Nations Training Corps. I've had several complaints from First Nations who have applied for a position in the First Nations Training Corps. Something that is really troublesome to First Nation people is when they apply for a position and they never hear back from the government. Whether they were screened out or they weren't qualified, there's just absolutely no response.

A lot of the First Nations people I know who have applied for positions in the training corps have been those from residential school or else their offspring. So when this happens, the First Nations see it as being rejected, and that would really discourage them from ever reapplying for any training corps positions. So I believe that the government really has to take a close look at this area, because I believe it is basically meant to develop capacity and if there is no response to these individuals, it is a real deterrent for them to ever reapply in the future.

I had a complaint just last week about someone who was screened out when they felt that they had done many years of service in that particular environment. They could not understand why they were screened out. Maybe the department needs to be more responsive to those individuals who are screened out because at least there is some closure to it for the person who is applying. If they don't hear anything, then it is like being victimized all over again. One has to be a victim before you can understand the feelings that go along with basically everything that you approach in daily life. Most victims are surviving day by day. They don't plan things way into the future, so each time they are rejected for one job or another, it is just another barrier for them to overcome. I'm wondering if it is a common practice for the department to not send out information to these individuals -- that they were screened out or that they weren't successful applicants in the job application.

Hon. Mr. Hart:  I'll try to reiterate what I indicated earlier. This government goes out of its way to explain the staffing process in information sessions to assist the individuals in preparing to apply for the work with the government and to help them get ready for interviews -- the Workplace Diversity Employment Office, including the First Nation Training Corps and the temporary assignments between the Yukon government as well as First Nation governments.

The department is more than willing to sit down and do post-mortem on the applications at the request of the individual. If they wish to find out why they were screened out or what the process is, we are more than happy to sit down with that applicant based on their request.

Chair:   Is there any further general debate?

Hearing none, we will proceed line by line.

On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures

On Finance and Administration

Mr. Fairclough:   I would like the minister to give us a breakdown of that amount, please.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The $33,000 consists of a couple of items. It is the total cost for the collective agreement for section M increases for public service, $660,000, including $187,000 for Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board premium impacts. The detailed costs related to the negotiated agreements are calculated on a position-by-position basis in each department and added to the supplemental estimates. The current agreement negotiated with the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Yukon Employees Union is in effect until December 31, 2009.

Finance and Administration in the amount of $33,000 agreed to

On Corporate Human Resource Services

Mr. Fairclough:   Again, Mr. Chair, I would like the minister to give us a breakdown of that line item.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   $140,000 of that is according to the managers collective agreement as well as the collective agreement itself, and $60,000 is for the corporate shredding and recycling group.

Mr. Fairclough:   It was $567,000 in this line item and the minister said $140,000 to the managers collective agreement and did he say $450,000, or was that $45,000 for the rest to the shredder. The numbers didn't add up.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   I apologize to the member opposite. I didn't turn the page. There was the job evaluation for managers, $167,000; employee recruitment and retention fund of $200,000.

Corporate Human Resource Services in the amount of $567,000 agreed to

On Employee Compensation

Mr. Fairclough:   Same thing, Mr. Chair. Could I have a breakdown of this line item?

Hon. Mr. Hart:  The employee compensation is for the collective agreement and management agreement increases.

Employee Compensation in the amount of $59,000 agreed to

On Staff Relations

Mr. Fairclough:   Same thing, Mr. Chair. Could I have a breakdown of this line item?

Hon. Mr. Hart:   The collective agreement and management agreement increases amounted to $52,000 under this section, and the balance of $50,000 is for the long service awards that are handed out in December.

Staff Relations in the amount of $102,000 agreed to

On Workers' Compensation Fund

Mr. Fairclough:   I would ask the minister for a breakdown of this line item.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   Mr. Chair, the $187,000 is as a result of the workers' compensation premiums on salaries and will also be impacted by the changes in the collective agreement.

Workers' Compensation Fund in the amount of $187,000 agreed to

On Human Resource Management Systems

Mr. Fairclough:   Can I have a breakdown of this line item, please?

Hon. Mr. Hart:  The first item there results in $22,000 for the collective agreement and management agreement increases. The balance of $34,000 is due for the PeopleSoft system, which is the computer software under Corporate Services through the Department of Highways and Public Works.

Human Resource Management Systems in the amount of $56,000 agreed to

On Policy and Planning

Mr. Fairclough:    I'd like an explanation of that line item.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   That line item is a collective agreement and management increases for the salaries.

Policy and Planning in the amount of $54,000 agreed to

On Staff Development

Mr. Fairclough:   I will ask the minister for a breakdown of this line item.

Hon. Mr. Hart:   This is broken down into two items. The first one is $113,000 and this is for the collective agreement and management increases. The second portion is $150,000. It's the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board order, the requirement of us doing the audit and dealing with a situation that resulted, as I said, from the request of July 13, 2007.

Staff Development in the amount of $263,000 agreed to

On Total of Other O&M Programs

Total of Other O&M Programs in the amount of nil cleared

Total Operation and Maintenance Expenditures in the amount of $1,321,000 agreed to

Public Service Commission agreed to

Hon. Mr. Cathers:   Mr. Chair, seeing the time, I move that you report progress.

Chair:   It has been moved by Mr. Cathers that we report progress on Bill No. 8, Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08.

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. Nordick:    Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 8, entitled Second Appropriation Act, 2007-08, and directed me to report progress.

Speaker:   You have heard the report from the Chair of Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?

Some Hon. Member:   Agreed.

Speaker:   I declare the report carried.

Hon. Mr. Cathers:  I move that the House do now adjourn.

Speaker:   It has been moved by the Government House Leader that the House do now adjourn.

Motion agreed to

Speaker:   This House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. tomorrow.

The House adjourned at 5:11 p.m.

Last Updated: 11/27/2007