Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. At this year’s mineral Roundup in Vancouver, the head of the Yukon Prospectors’ Association had some interesting things to say about the outlook for mining in the Yukon. One of them is that people are saying things aren’t quite as rosy as we have been led to believe over the years in the Yukon. The boom enjoyed during record high mineral prices is now over. However, the underlying problems still do exist. We lack infrastructure, particularly in regard to power. We lack skilled workers. The governments relationship with the governments that own a lot of the Yukon —the First Nations — is now at a low point. Our regulatory regime has also been subject to a great amount of criticism as of late.
What is the government doing to start addressing some of these underlying issues?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. In 2013, the Yukon Party oversaw our GDP growth slip to only one percent. We had one of the lowest growth rates in all of Canada. The government also oversaw a 10-percent increase — or 700 new public sector government jobs — in the Yukon in 2013 — this, despite promises to focus on improving our private sector.
Last fall the minister produced an economic forecast that called for 8.8-percent GDP growth for 2014. That forecast was predicated on virtually every mineral property in the Yukon being operational this year. At that time, I and many Yukoners raised concerns about the forecast being wildly optimistic. Only five months later, the minister had issued a new forecast that said that the rate of growth would be 60 percent less than what the government was projecting.
Will the minister now admit that the fall’s forecast was unrealistic?Read more
Mr. Silver: Yesterday, I tabled a motion calling on the Government of Yukon to help find a permanent home for the Child Development Centre and the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program in Dawson. These programs have move four times in the last two years as office spaces or homes they have rented have literally sold out from underneath them.
They are, once again, on the move as the house that they were renting has been sold and, as of the end of May, they will be homeless. The minister and I have exchanged letters over this matter several times over the past two and a half years.
I have also raised this matter in the House, including during Question Period in the spring of 2012, where the groups were in the same position that they are now. The minister said at that time — and I quote: “My answer to the member opposite is quite simple: Sorry, but we are working on it.”
Mr. Speaker, what assistance has the government provided to this group in their search for a more permanent home?Read more
Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, I have another question for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources. The Yukon has depended on diesel fuel for energy production for many years. We have also known for many years that the now 45-year-old diesel generators would be in need of replacement. There was plenty of time for the government to research and to understand the different options available to provide this backup energy.
Why did it take the government so long to initiate a plan to replace the aging diesel generators, therefore eliminating some very valuable options?Read more
Mr. Silver: Last summer the Premier announced that the government was moving forward on building a new hydroelectric dam. After the Yukon Party government and the former energy minister spent several years trying to sell our hydro system to Alberta, this is a welcome change in direction.
However, since the formal announcement in November, there has been no word from this government on how it intends to proceed. Mr. Speaker, last fall the minister did ask the Yukon Development Corporation to start planning. He gave them a 90-day period to prepare a report. The minister should have had that report by late February. We did hear of an extension earlier this year, in the spring legislative session.
Has he received it and will he make it public?Read more
Mr. Silver: I also have a question for the minister responsible for Highways and Public Works. Last Friday, the minister managed to cancel a $14.5-million tender in the community of Teslin. This money was obviously set aside for the community’s main bridge. This is no small feat for this government. The budget hasn’t even been passed by this House and already one of the largest capital projects has been cancelled and thrown into Nisutlin Bay.
Can the minister explain to us: How did we get to this point?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Earlier this year, the minister told CBC Radio that higher tourism numbers were due to marketing the government has done with Germany and Japan. Information I have seen from the minister’s own department shows that visitation from Germany is actually down from where it was in 2010, and down substantially from where it was 15 years ago.
I wrote the minister, asking him to provide any statistics to back up his claim that the number of German tourists is on the rise. He did respond to my letter, but refused to answer the question. I asked again during the Tourism debate and the minister refused to answer this direct question there as well.
What proof can the minister provide the public that increased marketing to Germany has in fact resulted in more German visitors to the Yukon?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Health and Social Services.
Last spring, officials of the Yukon Hospital Corporation appeared as witnesses in this Chamber to address questions about a variety of topics including the proposed emergency expansion at Whitehorse General Hospital.
Before that, it had been two full years since representatives of the corporation appeared in the Legislative Assembly. The government has been very reluctant again this spring to allow these witnesses to appear, despite my request to have this happen.
When officials were here last May, we discussed the hospital expansion and they estimated that the new emergency department would be in service in 2017. This week the minister said, “The plans for the expansion of the emergency department are evolving.”
Will the 2017 deadline be met for the new emergency department to be in service?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question about the Klondike Valley fire hall. Recent renovations to the fire hall have turned it into more of a water distribution centre than a fire station. A project to drill a well was delayed several times and missed many completion dates. The renovations caused considerable disruptions to the activities of the volunteer fire department. When I asked the minister about a possible solution to this issue last fall, he said that, number one, moving the volunteer fire department across the highway to the airport would not be considered, and, two, he did recognize the problem and said — and I quote: “Certainly if there are pressures on the space requirements at the fire hall … we will give consideration to that and we will not rule out the possibility of considering renovations or additional storage space.”
Does the one-billion dollar budget contain any funding for this proposal?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works about the Dawson waste-water treatment project. Earlier this year, officials from the minister’s department put the operating cost to run this new facility at $340,000. People I’ve spoken to in Dawson think that this number might be a little bit unrealistic and don’t believe that the amount will even cover the fuel bill, let alone operations of the facility. The municipality of Dawson should not be left on the hook if the costs to operate this building are higher than expected.
If the bill does come in higher than $340,000, will the Government of Yukon cover this extra cost?Read more