Hansard November 26, 2013
Mr. Silver: So far this sitting, I’ve been asking several questions about the government wasting taxpayers’ money on capital projects. The community hospitals in Dawson and Watson Lake and F.H. Collins school are examples of this. We have seen millions of dollars mismanaged by the Yukon Party. The extent of this mismanagement is not reserved for just larger projects. There are examples of smaller ones as well.
Back in March 2012 the government announced it was going ahead with replacing the Beaver Creek fire hall. Twenty months later, residents are no closer to seeing this facility built. A tender was put out and then cancelled because all of the bids were higher than the budget the government had set aside. When will this project be retendered?
Hon. Mr. Cathers: First of all, I have to again point out the inaccuracies in the Liberal leader’s narrative. I know this has been a very traumatic month for him with finding out that the highlight of his political career — his meeting with Justin Trudeau — Mr. Trudeau didn’t even remember what they talked about, that the meeting existed or that the Yukon Liberal Party existed.
The member is quite simply, absolutely wrong again. In fact, we continue to manage projects in a financially responsible manner and the Beaver Creek fire hall is being designed by architects to ensure that it meets the project envelope.
Mr. Silver: I’d like to commend the minister for his excellent job representing his constituents.
The government was very keen to take credit for this project, highlighting it in its budget speech in 2012 and again this year. Unfortunately for residents of Beaver Creek, the government was too busy promoting themselves to actually set proper budgets for the project. As a result of this mismanagement, the budgets all came in well over what was set aside. More importantly, the residents of Beaver Creek are left to manage with an outdated building for another year or so while this government tries to get its act together.
We’ve seen this pattern being repeated time and time again. The Auditor General of Canada has criticized this government repeatedly for poor handling of taxpayers’ money. Similar to situations at F.H. Collins, contractors put time and money into bidding on a project only to see it cancelled.
Can the Premier explain why the government can’t seem to a get a handle on capital project spending?
Hon. Mr. Istchenko: I have to disagree with the member opposite. I’m pretty sure we have a good handle on capital projects when a capital project like the Beaver Creek fire hall, which is in the Kluane riding — and I have assured the residents of Beaver Creek that they will be getting a fire hall — comes in at 50-percent higher than the estimated cost. Our consultant is receiving and reviewing the design as we speak and we look forward to getting that project out into the new year. It’s important that we be fiscally responsible. You heard it from us on this side of the House.
When it comes to the member opposite’s questions on contracts, I just want to talk a little bit about contracts: the Destruction Bay roof replacement or the Ross River arena, maybe the Selkirk Elementary School roof — actually that was underbudget — Porter Creek Secondary School roof was also underbudget. How about Betty’s Haven? I can go on and on about good contracting and good fiscal responsibility.
Mr. Silver: We would hope that a government would have a handle on capital spending, so of course there are going to be some projects they can list, but there are some major problems here. Yukoners are well aware of this government’s inability to manage the taxpayers’ money. The decision to scrap the F.H. Collins school design has resulted in at least $6 million of taxpayers’ money being lost.
Yukoners heard this week that the cost of the expansion of the Whitehorse General Hospital would be between $60 million and $65 million. This is despite assurances from the government that it would only be $50 million. In the budget speech this spring the government said the budget for the new facility in Beaver Creek would be $3.6 million.
My question is, when the government tenders this project for the second time, will the budget be the same as $3.6 million or will it actually be lower?
Hon. Mr. Pasloski: It’s always interesting to listen to the Liberals talk about project management and about overspending. We know what the Liberals would have done if they were in government with this Beaver Creek project or F.H. Collins. They would have just built it, regardless of what the cost was. How do I know that? Because I know when the Liberals were in power they were borrowing money just to pay wages.
I don’t think we will be listening to or taking advice from the Liberal Party when it comes to the fiscal management of projects or the fiscal management of the government. Since this government has —
Some Hon. Member: (inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Pasloski: Do I have the floor, Mr. Speaker?
Hon. Mr. Pasloski: Thanks.
Since this government has come into power after consecutive NDP and Liberal governments, we have seen a growing economy; we have seen us out of the red and into the black. We have had consecutive years of a surplus in our budget and ever-growing net financial resources. This is one of only two jurisdictions that have money in the bank — the envy of the rest of the country.
When it comes to a project like Beaver Creek, which was almost 50-percent overbudget, you’re right that we are going to look at it again, Mr. Speaker. We are responsible for looking after taxpayers’ money and that’s precisely what we’re going to do.
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