Mr. Silver: Let’s go back a bit. In 2011, the Premier made a commitment to spend some new federal money on designing a mental health plan. In 2012, a year later, a former Yukon Party health minister told a radio station that the government was planning a mental health strategy. Two years later, 2014, a former minister told this House, and I quote: “We’re working on a mental health strategy and when it is available, I will be only too happy to present it in the Legislature.”
The clock hits 2015 and Yukon has a new Minister of Health, but still no mental health strategy. We are one of only two jurisdictions in Canada without a strategy in place and it shows Yukoners where mental health is on this government’s priority list. Why is this strategy not in place after four years of promises from this government?Read more
Mr. Silver: I began this sitting with a call for the resignation of the minister responsible for the Housing Corporation over the mishandling of $17 million of affordable housing money. That was echoed, of course, only a few days later by the City of Whitehorse.
Again this week, there has been renewed criticism from the Chamber of Commerce and housing advocates over this government’s mismanagement plan to spend some of the money on energy-efficiency rebates.
When the minister went back to the drawing board this spring, after cancelling plans for affordable housing units, he said, “Stay tuned.” Yukoners are still waiting. I’ll give the minister an opportunity to explain the motion that he tabled here today. Does the government actually plan to spend any of the remaining funding on affordable housing?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works about the long-delayed and overbudget F.H. Collins.
The government is ever-sensitive about the ever-escalating costs of this project, and it should be. Spending $6 million on a plan for a new school and then scrapping that design is expensive. Pretending that the plans for the new school are free and then paying a company from Alberta almost $1 million to change is also expensive.
The government is now trying to claim that renovations to the tech and trade wing are a separate project and that these costs shouldn’t be considered in replacing the school. The government knew that the tech and trade wing had to be upgraded, because the heat for the building comes from the existing F.H. Collins building which will be torn down. When you take away a building’s heating source, replacing it is part of the cost of finishing a project.
Will the minister admit that the renovations to the tech and trade wing should be considered part of the cost for rebuilding F.H. Collins school?Read more
Mr. Silver: For a number of years, Yukon night at the mineral Roundup in Vancouver has been the centrepiece of activities for investors who want to do business here in the Yukon. It is a formal part of the conference and has traditionally been held on Monday night.
This year, the program for Roundup lists Yukon night on Sunday before the conference actually even begins, and it says — and I’ll quote here: “The following events are organized independently of AMEBC…” The event is on Sunday, is much smaller and it only runs for two hours instead of the traditional three to four hours.
My question is for the Premier: Why is Yukon night not an official part of Roundup anymore?Read more
Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Minister of Highways and Public Works. The government has been claiming, with a straight face, that the F.H. Collins project is on time and on budget. The Yukon Party government of the day promised the school would be open in August of 2013, and the original budget was supposed to be $25 million. That budget is now well over $50 million and the minister admitted last week that it is going to be even higher with changes coming to the tech and trades wing.
In 2013, I asked the government to consider putting the trades and tech wing in the new school. The minister said he was open to that idea at the time and that it was worth considering. A government that does good planning would have looked at it and would have looked at what the cost would have been to upgrade the trades wing and compared it to the cost of building it right into the new school. On Thursday, the minister admitted that the government doesn’t have any cost figures at all, and in fact we are only now assessing what work needs to be done to upgrade the trades wing.
Why was this work not done before the decision was made not to include the trades wing in the new construction?Read more
Mr. Silver: Yukoners have been waiting for the Yukon Party government to implement a territory-wide 911 service for over a decade now. In the last couple of years, after repeated criticism from the Association of Yukon Fire Chiefs, municipalities and on the floor of this House, the government has reluctantly moved forward this file. We have been told by the government excuses like, “it’s in Northwestel’s hands”, and “the community lacks proper numbering on their houses”, as a result of the lack of progress.
Yesterday the CRTC, our national communications regulator, put the blame for the delay squarely on this government, saying that it was behind the curve on 911 services.
Just to make sure that the government gets the point, CRTC also said — and I quote: “We are not happy that the Yukon has been lagging behind in implementing this.”
Does the minister accept the criticism of this government from the CRTC?Read more
Mr. Silver: A few weeks ago, I asked a question of this government about the Ketza River mine property near Ross River. It concerned the government accessing a $3-million reclamation fund attached to the property to fund maintenance work on the access road and bridges. There is also work with respect to the tailing facilities on-site. I would argue that this money was supposed to be used to close the mine and not finance maintenance work.
The minister mentioned that the government had retained the services of a consulting firm to manage the project. What he didn’t say was that the contract to this firm was awarded without competition. Why did the government bypass the competitive bidding process and give out a $2.8-million contract without competition?Read more
Mr. Silver: The community of Dawson is currently under a water-boil advisory. We know that the source of the problem is that basically the $25 million water treatment facility does not work properly. Here is what is going on — here’s the problem.
When the new facility was built, it was simply connected to an old discharge pipe to the river. This week, this connection from the plant to the old infrastructure failed — not surprisingly, I’m told. It was only a matter of time, I was told. “Predictable” was the word that was used today when talking to my constituents.
Why was this issue using old infrastructure to hook up a new facility not addressed when the government spent $25 million on this facility?Read more
Mr. Silver: For months, this government has been insisting that there has been adequate consultation on changes to Bill S-6 that are now before the House of Commons. For the longest time, our Member of Parliament said the same thing — that no input from the public was required and changes could simply just be approved. Last week, our MP changed his mind and said that hearing from the public might be a good idea after all.
I believe that Yukoners should have a say on the changes that are being proposed, including the four put forth by this Yukon Party government. I believe that the House of Commons committee examining these changes should hold a public hearing here in the territory.
Does the Premier support that, and has he made a request to the Government of Canada?Read more
Mr. Silver: In the summer of 2013, the Premier announced the government was moving forward on building a new hydroelectric dam. After the Yukon Party government and the former Energy, Mines and Resources minister spent several years trying to sell our hydro system to Alberta, this was a welcome change in direction.
However, from the first announcement, it took the government almost a full year to release a workplan for this project. That workplan, released in May of 2014 said — and I quote: “A next generation hydro project would likely be eight to 10 times the cost of the Mayo B hydro enhancement and transmission project.”
Mayo B cost $120 million. Can the minister confirm the government is looking at spending as much as $950 million to $1.2 billion on this new project?Read more