Question re: Whistle Bend continuing care facility - April 20, 2016

Mr. Silver: I also have a question for the Premier about the Whistle Bend seniors facility.

Yesterday in Question Period, the Premier said he put a great deal of stock in what the Auditor General of Canada has to say about budgeting and Yukon’s finances. In 2013, the Auditor General released a scathing report on the Yukon Party’s fiscal mismanagement on the construction of two rural hospitals. In it, he was sharply critical of the decision to begin construction before knowing the operation and maintenance costs of these facilities. As the election looms, the Yukon Party is once again starting construction on a very large project — the Whistle Bend seniors facility — with no idea of what the operation and maintenance costs will be.

Mr. Speaker, why is the Yukon Party ignoring the advice of the Auditor General when it comes to financial management of projects?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: As Yukoners know, there have been needs assessments done; there has been a business case done for this facility. We are looking after Yukoners. That is a priority for this government to do that, and we will do it in a fiscally responsible manner. Yukoners are comforted to know that, through good times and bad, this is a government that continues to see that we have money in the bank — the envy of the entire country that has massive amounts of debts, that has to put money every year into servicing debt, whereas this government continues to pay its way. We put all of the revenues that we have into programs, services and capital investment to create a better Yukon for everyone.

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Premier said the Auditor General was his go-to guy for financial advice and today he won’t even talk about him. Here’s the actual advice that the Auditor General gave this government in 2013 — and I quote: “… the hospitals were designed and built without knowing the… operating costs — costs that should have been available to decision makers before approval for the projects was given”.

It’s obvious that the Yukon Party is more concerned about the upcoming election and getting construction going than it is about following the advice from the Auditor General. This is nothing new and it speaks to how politics trumps good financial management time and time again with this administration. The government is building a massive new facility, and with it comes new major operation and maintenance costs but the government doesn’t know what they are, even though construction is already well underway.

Why is the Yukon Party once again ignoring the Auditor General?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: Mr. Speaker, I thought that the Leader of the Liberal Party would shy away from the previous hospitals — the previous hospitals that we invested in in Watson Lake and Dawson that he was vehemently opposed to — the construction of those. I dare to ask the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Member for Klondike to ask his constituents today what they think of that investment.

I want to acknowledge the previous MLA for Klondike for his work and persistence in delivering one of many important projects that the former MLA, Steve Nordick, delivered for that riding.

The Auditor General is very clear. In the audit of our Public Accounts every year, they have said that we had an unqualified position and that we have net financial resources. The best indicator of financial management is a party that runs a consistent, modest surplus — and the envy of the country by having money in the bank.

Mr. Silver: Mr. Speaker, my constituents know that I was not against the facilities, but against the fiscal mismanagement by this government of those facilities. It is funny to watch the government pick and choose which advice from the Auditor General that it wants to follow.

Not that long ago, the Auditor General criticized the government because it did not identify the operating costs of the two new hospitals until the new hospitals were under design and construction was well underway. That was my criticism.

 It is straightforward advice: before you build something, know what it is going to cost before you operate. The government has not done that. It has released no information on O&M costs because they have been cancelled. The Premier said yesterday that he would always take the word of the Auditor General. In this case the government has done exactly the opposite of what the Auditor General has recommended. It is a lack of leadership, and it is a lack of planning, and the Premier refuses to address this issue.

Why did the government give the construction go-ahead without knowing the operation and maintenance costs? Would the Premier answer the question?

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: Mr. Speaker, we just heard again the lack of leadership with another flip-flop by the Leader of the Liberal Party. We will look forward to sharing with Yukoners some of the previous quotes the Liberal leader had with regard to the hospital in Dawson City. We will enjoy the reaction that people have if he wants to talk about leadership.

Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)

Hon. Mr. Pasloski: What we are hearing off-mic — disruption that the Liberal leader will try to do.

Mr. Speaker, I have said it before and I will say it again — that the health and welfare of Yukoners is paramount for this government. We have invested in MRIs. We have invested in hospital expansion here. We have built two regional hospitals. We are investing in new alcohol and drug services with the Sarah Steele. We continue to keep health and welfare of Yukoners a priority and we do it by being responsible fiscally with their money. We are the envy of the rest of the country. Sadly, that is what the other two parties have to deal with.