Mr. Silver: In August 2013, a set of interim guides were issued by the Yukon Water Board for oil and gas. These new guidelines increase the jurisdiction the Water Board has over the oil and gas industry. These new guidelines treat all methods of oil and gas extraction the same — as being water intensive. Conventional oil drilling uses far less water than hydraulic fracturing but the water permits under the new guidelines do not differentiate.
According to the Water Board’s internal directive, signed on August 8, 2014, the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources and the Department of Environment signed a memorandum of agreement on these interim guides. My question is to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources: Why have these changes been made?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. This morning, the Yukon Supreme Court rejected the government’s unilateral approach to developing a land use plan in the Peel watershed. This follows on the heels of a 2012 court decision the Yukon government lost to the Ross River Dena Council. Now that is two major legal strikes against this government in just three years. The government is currently championing Bill S‑6, which makes major changes to YESAA. Yukon First Nations have said that they will go to court if this bill becomes law. At the same time, the president of Casino Mining Corporation says that S-6 is having a negative effect on the territorial mining industry because it has no support from the First Nations. This government is not doing well when it comes to the courts.
Will the Premier agree to ask the Government of Canada to pull Bill S‑6 so that Yukoners can avoid another lengthy and costly court battle?Read more
Mr. Silver: As far back as 2007, the Yukon Liberal Party has been advocating for the government to adapt an independent power policy or an IPP policy.
In that time, we have seen a lot of activity, including ministers being shuffled out of Energy, Mines and Resources, but we have yet to see an IPP policy. The holdup is the Yukon Party government, which has been talking about putting a policy in place for this for years now, but still has not completed the job. This is something industry and the Liberal caucus have been promoting for a number of years.
When will we see an IPP policy in place?Read more
Mr. Silver: Just over a year ago, the government cut a ribbon on the ambulance station at the top of Two Mile Hill. A year later, the space intended to be an integrated dispatch centre for ambulance services, still sits empty. Calls still go through the station in Riverdale. The reason the space is empty — and the minister admitted this himself — is because the government had no agreement in place with the RCMP to move in when the construction was started and no agreement when construction had ended. When I asked about this empty space last spring, the minister said negotiations with the RCMP to be a tenant were ongoing.
Mr. Speaker, it has been six months and the space is still empty. Can the minister please explain why?Read more
Mr. Silver: This spring, our Legislature passed a unanimous motion supporting a private member’s bill put forth by the Yukon’s own Member of Parliament. Bill C-583 seeks to amend the Criminal Codeto add a definition of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, FASD, and to establish a procedure for addressing individuals who are involved in the criminal justice system and who, it is suspected, suffer from FASD. It requires the court to consider, as a mitigating factor in sentencing, a determination that the accused suffers from FASD. Last week, the federal Conservatives decided that they didn’t support the bill and asked the member to pull it and, for some reason, he agreed.
Does the Government of Yukon support the decision by our Member of Parliament to kill his own piece of legislation?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the minister responsible for workers’ compensation. There has been a lot of attention paid to the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as it pertains to military personnel. Another group of workers who are overrepresented with this illness are our first responders, including firefighters, paramedics and police officers. First responders who suffer from PTSD are not automatically eligible for workers’ compensation in the Yukon.
In 2012, the Government of Alberta changed its Workers’ Compensation Act to allow firefighters, police officers, sheriffs and paramedics to receive compensation for PTSD without having to prove that their condition is work-related. Alberta became the first province in Canada to provide such coverage.
Has the government or WCB considered making similar changes here?Read more
Mr. Silver: Earlier this summer, a company named Veris Gold filed for bankruptcy protection. A subsidiary of Veris Gold owns the Ketza River mine project near Ross River. On October 3, the company issued a news release saying that it would be cooperating with the Yukon government to address certain maintenance and remedial work required at the Ketza River project. This news release was not announced by this government.
The work includes maintenance work on access road bridges and will be funded from a $3-million security fund that the company had established for reclamation. It appears that the government is using the reclamation fund to pay for maintenance at this mine site. Can the minister explain to us why?Read more
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, before the sitting began, the Premier told Yukoners that the government had fulfilled many of its commitments during its last election. It certainly left the impression that the government thinks that its work is done and is trying to decide what it should do next. Well, here’s a suggestion.
Before the 2011 election, the Yukon Party candidate in the Klondike held a sod-turning ceremony with the former Yukon Party Minister of Community Services to begin construction of a new recreation centre in Dawson. Three years into the government’s mandate, the long-standing Yukon Party commitment to build that rec centre has fallen off the table.
This year’s budget contains no funding, and nothing is mentioned in the long-term plan either. Has the government broken this promise to my community?Read more
Mr. Silver: I’m going to return to a topic of great concern to my constituents. The Government of Yukon announced it was transferring the ownership of the Dawson waste-water treatment facility to Dawson City earlier this year. The transfer was supposed to happen mid-March. This didn’t happen. The samples taken at the time failed to pass the water quality test. The contractor who built the facility was supposed to operate it for one year and then turn it over to the city. Yukoners are well-aware that the $25-million plant has not operated properly since it has opened.
Can the minister confirm the hand-off to the City of Dawson has not in fact occurred because the plant still isn’t working properly?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier on the future of the Shakwak project. Since the 1970s, the United States government has, under the Shakwak project, been providing funding to upgrade the highways from Haines, Alaska, to Beaver Creek.
Over the years, the funding provided for construction has totalled over $400 million. This year’s budget is $15 million. The problem is the funding for the project for future years was cut off by the United States in 2012. Since then, the government has been lobbying unsuccessfully to have this funding reinstated and has also spent down what monies had been banked over the years. This reserve is now almost empty.
How confident is this government that funding will be restored?Read more