Question re: YHC and YEC witnesses before Committee of the Whole – April 9, 2013

Mr. Silver: I have a question for the Premier. In February of this year, I called on the Premier to confirm that officials from both the Yukon Hospital Corporation and the Yukon Energy Corporation would appear as witnesses in this Chamber during the upcoming spring session.

It has been two full years since representatives of either corporation have sat in the Legislative Assembly. The government has been very reluctant to have either corporation appear to answer questions and the public deserves better. I wanted a commitment well in advance of the sitting that both corporations would appear this spring. My request has never been answered. We are almost one-third of the way through the spring session and I still have not received an answer.

Will officials from both corporations appear this spring?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: I respond of course as House Leader to the Liberal Party House Leader. He’s well aware that we’ve discussed this matter at House Leaders a number of times and that his request is certainly being taken into consideration.

Mr. Silver: That’s why I have the need to bring it up here in the Assembly today. The Hospital Corporation last appeared on February 15, 2011, and since that time there have been significant developments. The centrepiece of the budget, for example, is a $27-million bailout of the corporation. A number of years ago the Yukon Party government moved the construction of two new hospitals out of the Department of Health and Social Services to avoid scrutiny of the Legislature and has resisted calls to have the corporation appear as well. As questions mount about the new facilities, it is an ideal time for some accountability to the public.

What day will officials from the Yukon Hospital Corporation appear during this spring sitting?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: First of all I have to correct the member’s understanding. The member’s characterization of the $27 million in this year’s budget is inaccurate and quite unfortunate. In fact, what government has done is taken the opportunity to take a previously existing loan and pay down that loan, which will save $12 million in interest payments over the life of that loan. That is good financial management; that is reducing our borrowing cost over the long term. It’s unfortunate the member doesn’t support that request.

I would remind the members, particularly the interim Liberal leader, that we’re on the tenth day of the sitting; we will be discussing throughout the course of this sitting what departments will be called when and when corporations will appear. I have indicated to the member opposite that we appreciate his request and will let him know in due course when the corporations will be appearing.

Mr. Silver: I’ll move on here — how about in regard to the Yukon Energy Corporation, which last appeared February 7, 2011? The list of concerns is long here as well. There are questions about the future of current rate subsidies, power outages, new industrial customers — that’s a big one — and the biggest one: How will the future power needs be met?

It has been two years since officials last appeared, and hopefully we’ll get some answers to these questions when they appear this spring. I made this request daily last fall, and the government refused to allow either corporation to appear then and gave the same line at that time: in due course. What day?

What specific day will officials from the Yukon Energy Corporation appear in this House this spring?

Hon. Mr. Cathers: Again, there are 22 sitting days remaining within this sitting, and, in fact, the member’s characterizations of what we said last fall are quite inaccurate. I encourage him to refer to that, because we had indicated that we weren’t bringing them in at that point last fall.

So again, with regard to the member’s question about Yukon Development Corporation and Yukon Energy Corporation — first of all, to correct the member, typically representatives of both corporations appear here in the Assembly when they do. We will be advising the member in due course of when the corporations will be appearing. As I have indicated to the member before at House Leaders — and in this case, in particular with Yukon Development and Yukon Energy Corporation — we will likely be bringing them before the Assembly this sitting, but that’s something we need to discuss with the boards of those corporations before simply responding in Question Period to a request from the member.

As the member knows very well, we discuss these matters at House Leaders on an ongoing basis and we’ll be letting him know in due course.