Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
The committee welcomes our witnesses and guests.
We are really pleased to be here as part of the pre-budget consultative process. We're the members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance.
We are pleased to be here in this beautiful and special part of the country. I must say it's my first time in the Yukon. I've really enjoyed the last few hours I've been here and I look forward to coming back again.
We all look forward to hearing your presentations today. Thank you for the time you've taken to be with us, to prepare your briefs, and to answer any questions we may have.
You've all been notified you have five minutes to cover a massive undertaking, and in the interest of time, we will keep you to five. While you're giving your presentation, I will give you an indication that you have a minute or less remaining, if you care to make visual contact. We'll cut you off at five minutes to allow time for an exchange and for questions and so on.
Welcome. Thank you for being here.
We will begin with the representative from the city of Fort St. John, Jim Eglinski. Welcome, Mayor.
Please proceed. Five minutes is yours.
Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Jim Eglinski, and I am the mayor of the city of Fort St. John. I have with me Mr. John Locher, my city manager. Thank you for inviting us to speak here today.
We agree with the premise of your consultation initiative that if Canada is to have a meaningful place in the world, our citizens and our businesses must prosper. We also agree that for citizens and businesses to prosper in this increasingly competitive world, Canada must have the infrastructure required to ensure a high quality of life and efficient local, regional, and national economies.
But people and businesses don’t just live and work in Canada or even in a province or territory. They live and work in communities, large and small, like Fort St. John or Whitehorse. If you want individuals and firms to be happy, healthy, and prosperous, you must support not only federal and provincial infrastructure but the infrastructure of each of these communities, large and small.
While previous federal governments have attempted to support a narrow range of municipal infrastructure, like roads, water, and sewer, and the current government is supporting roads, bridges, and border crossings, it is my humble submission that these programs are short-term and costly to administer and suffer from a lack of accountability and transparency. We believe you can do better.
You have asked what specific federal tax or program spending measures should be implemented to ensure our nation has the infrastructure required by citizens and businesses. Our answer: you must change the way it is funded. Communities like Fort St. John need this to be done as soon as possible.
You may find it hard to believe that a city like Fort St. John needs your help with infrastructure. After all, the city is in the midst of rapid growth and transformation.
We are the oil and gas capital of British Columbia and the primary service centre for the province’s northeast. Fort St. John has a major softwood forest industry, including a world-class oriented strand board plant. We are at the centre of the largest agricultural region in the province. Our city boasts the second youngest population in Canada, and its residents have the highest net incomes in the province. The BMO Financial Group recently ranked the city third on its list of small business--it's a hotbed among 111 communities across Canada--second for small business growth in the next five years, and first in the number of businesses per thousand people.
So why do we need your help? A booming economy is a double-edged sword for small municipalities like Fort St. John. We are challenged to attract sufficient employees to the community to support the resource industries and the growth in the community. Our revenues don’t go up as much as those of the private sector, individuals, or the two senior levels of government when the economy booms. Our only significant revenue source is property tax, and we are constrained by both the property values and the political costs of increasing the already high tax burden of our citizens.
However, the demands on our municipal infrastructure--roads, sewers, parks, cultural amenities, sports facilities, and other programs--are skyrocketing. More goods are moving on our roads, and companies expect us to provide cultural and arts facilities to attract and keep their employees in the area. The list goes on to include expanding libraries to meet growth, working with our senior levels of government to renew health facilities, and establishing additional post-secondary training facilities in these communities.
But while these demands increase, our revenues do not. And Fort St. John is among the luckier small communities; our economy is strong. I can only imagine how difficult it is for communities that don't have a strong economic base.
What do we recommend for all our small communities, those trying to keep up with a booming economy and those that don't have one?
One, eliminate the short-term, one-off federal infrastructure initiatives, whereby programs take longer to design, negotiate, and implement.
Two, adopt the principle of subsidiary by which key decisions affecting local communities, like infrastructure spending, are made locally. This will not only speed things up, but it will clear things up.
Three, expand the definition of infrastructure to include not only roads, bridges, and sewers, which may not be a priority for every community.... Each community has a different set of priorities and should be able to set them.
How can you do this when your own budgeting process is an annual one, usually no more than four years? It has to become local, simple. This is my message to you today. Work with the provinces and territories to give municipalities, both large and small, an appropriate share of the wide array of income, sales, and other taxes collected by senior levels of government; reduce our dependency on property tax; and give back a portion of what is generated locally in sales, income, and other taxes.
We already have a precedent that's been set, whereby municipalities can secure a share of the gas tax. We believe this should be expanded to include goods and services, income, corporate, and other taxes you collect.
I want to begin by just saying good morning and welcome to the traditional territory of the Kwanlin Dun and Ta'an Kwach'an First Nations. On behalf of all CYFN first nations, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.
Within the context of the objective for Canada to remain vibrant, be progressive, and prosper within a competitive world, we must begin closer to home with a focus on our resources, key relationships, and processes. It is recognized that within Yukon there are many natural resources yet to be developed and tourism opportunities yet to be realized. First nations are willing to share many aspects of their culture with others and provide access to wilderness sites and experiences where no adverse cultural or environmental impacts can be assured.
A valued resource is our people. We must continually work together on ways to increase education levels, provide job experiences, and offer appropriate compensation and stability within the work environment. We need to ensure that sustainable capacity is developed and our full potential is realized. Yukon first nations are anxious to work with others to achieve these and other goals in a constructive and meaningful way.
The success of both Canada and first nations governments in the global economy is influenced by the perceptions of other nations. It is essential that they view the relationships between all governments—federal, provincial, territorial, and first nations—as both constructive and stable in our work toward common goals. The importance of commitment, integrity, and cooperation amongst all cannot be over-emphasized. Yukon first nations support these ideals.
We view the opportunity to work constructively with those arms of Canada's government that serve the collective interests of many of their departments, rather than continually deal with individual departments with their own complexities and mandates. As self-governing first nations, we strive to establish and maintain an effective government-to-government relationship, and we appreciate that active participation in forums like this one today is a step toward that end. We believe that working in such a manner will permit us to obtain better value from our very limited resources.
In significant part, we see this view of our relationship as a foundation of our self-government agreements with Canada. This implies that funds should flow directly from Canada to Yukon self-governing first nations, not through the Yukon territorial government. When Yukon first nations issues and interests are being discussed within intergovernmental forums, we need to be at the table. Increased effectiveness of available financial resources can be achieved by flowing them directly to those who can best respond to the widely varying needs of their citizens.
Under the land claim agreements, Yukon first nations have responsibilities for their beneficiaries and citizens that go beyond those with status. Further, since most Yukon first nations lands are not reserves, there are a number of federal government funding and service issues and entitlements that arise between Yukon first nations and those south of sixty.
We currently require your valued support to help us fully achieve the collective benefits of our self-government agreements and to resolve any outstanding issues arising from our land claims agreements. Our support for a major pipeline to provide essential fuel to domestic and international markets alike and our involvement in the construction of a transnational rail line to effectively move natural resources, commodities, and people are premised on land claims settlement and active Yukon first nations involvement.
We are anxious to become key participants in becoming increasingly competitive within the global economy. In the immediate future, however, we must concentrate our efforts and resources to get it right the first time. In our move toward true self-government, we ask the Government of Canada, through their upcoming budget, to increase our financial support for self-government and land claim implementation, to help accelerate this progress. Clearly, such an increase in budgeted expenditure should be viewed as a further investment in developing capacity for both first nations and Canada. Only then can we focus our efforts and expertise on the international scene and become active partners under this and other equally important themes.
Notably, this would not preclude the need for Canada, through its honour of the Crown, to continue to address many issues surrounding health, justice, human resource development, housing, community infrastructure, economic development, and other requirements on an ongoing basis, rather than intermittently or periodically in some instances. Further advances in all these areas would benefit all Yukoners and Canadians alike.
I hope we'll be able to offer a greater focus on the more technical aspects of this issue through a written submission.
In the meantime, I thank you for your indulgence and the opportunity to address this important topic, albeit while identifying its significant relationship with--if not dependence upon--many others.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you this morning.
Ensuring that Canadian citizens can prosper in the future requires much more than an active economy. Canadians' social and physical health depends on the natural environment. No amount of economic activity can compensate if human social and physical health and the natural environment they depend on is impacted. For this reason, the Yukon Conservation Society is focusing on climate change and mining in these recommendations this morning.
As you know, climate change is impacting the north--first and worst. This is an ecological disaster, where polar bears are unable to hunt due to melting sea ice and massive insect infestations or fires are completely changing forest habitat. We read in The Globe and Mail this morning that evidently the pine beetle is moving north now, in addition to the spruce bark beetle. It's also an economic disaster, as infrastructure like roads, pipelines, and buildings are impacted by melting permafrost and communities that are dependent on the forest industry are left high and dry.
Mining has serious economic impacts as well as economic benefits, for example, on traditional livelihoods such as trapping and nature tourism. It also creates boom and bust economies, with the concomitant social and health issues.
There is a long history of mines that have left environmental disasters in their wake, such as the Faro Mine in northern Yukon, which is likely to cost the federal budget $500 million to clean up and will leave a permanent legacy that needs to be monitored and maintained.
We are therefore recommending that the federal budget end subsidies, such as the super flow-through share program for mining and exploration and to instead create tax incentives and subsidies for mineral recycling and economic initiatives based on a healthy environment, such as developing national parks and supporting community stewardship initiatives.
Enhanced funding is essential for the cleanup of abandoned mines and for monitoring and regulatory oversight of mining and exploration. For example, here in the Yukon, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is creating a new regime to manage placer mining. Without adequate resources to monitor water quality and fish health, the new regime will not be effective.
A Canadian climate change strategy must immediately begin freezing carbon dioxide emissions and then begin sharp reductions. Tax incentives for renewable energy are needed, combined with an end to subsidies for oil and gas. There should be carbon taxes on oil and gas production and consumption. Public transit within and between northern communities also needs federal support. Energy conservation through energy efficient buildings and renewable energy sources must also be encouraged through education and financial incentives.
It's essential that Canada's climate change plan develop a strong focus on the north, because as we said earlier, it's here that the impacts of climate change first appear.
In summary, we're recommending a freeze on carbon dioxide and related greenhouse gas emissions; long-term funding for EnerGuide-style programs and low-income energy efficient housing; tax and other incentives for renewable energy; ending subsidies for oil and gas; tax incentives for energy efficient vehicles; taxes on vehicles that are inefficient; funding for initiatives in education that help Canadians to reduce greenhouse gases on an individual level; funding for mitigation and adaptation as well as modelling; continued federal involvement with programs like the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Arctic Council's “Arctic Climate Impact Assessment”; and a focus on the north for climate change initiatives.
Under mining, we're asking for enhanced funding for the cleanup of orphaned and abandoned mine sites; funding for enhanced regulatory oversight, particularly by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans with regard to the Yukon's new placer regime; tax and other incentives for mineral recycling; economic initiatives based on a healthy environment, such as developing new national parks; and supporting community stewardship initiatives rather than mining exploration.
Finally, cancel the super flow-through share program for mining exploration. That's a federal tax incentive for exploration. Instead, concentrate on mineral and metal recycling. Simply cancelling the super flow-through share program and the investment tax credit for exploration could bring in $105 million per year, which is currently lost by the federal government.
If you are still interested in making yet more cuts and saving more money for Canadians, this would be a good way to do it and switch over to funding metals recycling instead.
Thank you very much.
Good morning. Thanks for having us.
I will be brief.
Adventure travel and ecotourism are emerging as two of the fastest-growing markets for tourism worldwide. The Yukon, like Canada, is uniquely positioned to capitalize on this current global travel trend. That said, our global competitors are continually increasing their marketing budgets to compete in an increasingly competitive workplace.
In order for Canada and the Yukon to achieve our potential as world-class travel destinations, we must also continually increase our marketing efforts to the world. Unfortunately, as the Canadian government's support of the Canadian Tourism Commission has weakened, so has Canada's market share in tourism around the globe. The CTC makes money for Canadians; it is not simply an expense-side entity. The return on Canada's investment in tourism in 2005 was a total of $15.3 billion in taxes for all levels of government, with $7.7 billion going specifically to the federal tax base.
In simple terms, investing in Canada's tourism industry makes sound economic sense. As such, TIAY is calling on the federal government to significantly increase its funding of the Canadian Tourism Commission, so that Canadian tourism businesses will be able to compete effectively and continue to provide significantly to Canada's tax base.
Secondly, we're asking the government specifically to reverse its decision to take back the $5.6 million that was saved during the recent relocation of the commission to Vancouver—funds that earlier had been determined to be made available for marketing purposes.
In the Yukon, tourism is the largest private sector employer and annually adds approximately $165 million to the Yukon's GDP. In fact for every dollar spent by the tourism department on marketing, over $37 is realized in visitor spending. Unfortunately, the combination of the strong Canadian dollar, high gas prices, and the western hemisphere travel initiative are all threatening this tremendous return on investment. Every advantage the Canadian travel industry has is desperately needed to ensure our competitiveness in the marketplace.
It is with this fact in mind that TIAY is asking the federal government to reverse the elimination of the GST visitor rebate program. The additional costs to our consumers, which this initiative will create, will once again ensure loss of market share, and of the corresponding federal and provincial taxes for all Canadians.
I want to thank you for the committee's time today. Yukon tourism operators appreciate the opportunity to express these concerns.
Good morning, Chairman Pallister, vice-chairperson, and members of the standing committee.
I'm Stanley James, chairman of the board of directors of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon.
Thank you for the invitation to make a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance regarding Canada's place in a competitive world. The standing committee wishes to hear how citizens and business can prosper in the future, can be healthy, can have proper skills, and can be given the incentive to work and to save. The committee also wishes to hear how program spending measures can be implemented to meet those aspirations.
In 1979, recognizing that aboriginal northerners had serious concerns about the lack of representation of indigenous languages, customs, and culture, the CRTC established a committee on the extension of services to northern and remote communities. The committee recommended that federal funding be provided to develop aboriginal broadcasting networks in order to meet Canada's obligation to provide indigenous people with opportunities to preserve our languages and culture.
In March 1983 the northern native broadcasting program was created to support the production and distribution of relevant aboriginal programming to the northern indigenous population. The access program funds 13 non-profit communications societies, one of which is Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon. In 1984 Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon was incorporated as a non-profit society, governed by the 14 first nations of the Yukon.
Following a two-year training program, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon staff, consisting of five aboriginal individuals, began broadcasting radio programming on CHON-FM on February 1, 1985, to six Yukon communities seven hours a day, five days a week.
In 1986 Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon carried out a one-year television training program. The following year it produced its first season of four television programs, broadcast across the Yukon and Northwest Territories on CBC North.
Shortly after that, on February 1, 1991, Television Northern Canada went on the air. Television Northern Canada was created as members of northern aboriginal communications societies, including us, took on the challenge of providing television services to the north.
In 1999 Television Northern Canada underwent a change. It became the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Canada’s national aboriginal broadcaster. Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon currently provides 26 hours of original programming on that network in a variety of languages, including English. We also broadcast aboriginal radio programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our radio signal streams over the World Wide Web.
The majority of key Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon staff and support staff are members of first nations and are intimately familiar with the languages, culture, and communities of the Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Alaska.
From the beginning, over 150 individuals have been involved in the organization in some way or other. Employees, directors, the board of directors, consultants, and independent producers have all had a significant role to play in the growth of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon and its contribution to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of northern society.
Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon has played, and continues to play, a role as an economic generator. Since its launch, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon has injected approximately $21 million into the economy. It has been the main trainer and employee of aboriginal people wishing to enter into a career in electronic broadcasting in the Yukon.
The northern native broadcast access program is administered by the aboriginal programs directorate of the Department of Canadian Heritage. Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon submits an application annually to the department for core funding. A contribution agreement provides just over $1 million to the organization per fiscal year. The organization in turn must provide the department with quarterly activity and financial statements to trigger payments. Each year the department has been late in advising recipients of the status of their applications.
Good morning, everyone.
I'm pleased to be able to speak with you on the topic of Canada's place in a competitive world. Yukon College firmly believes that training and skills development are critical for an economy that is knowledge-based, and that the quality of Canada's workforce will be the primary competitive advantage in the future.
Canada must ensure it has a highly skilled, adaptable labour force that can respond to and drive the economy of tomorrow, and it must be able to make the best use of the skills of those already in the marketplace.
Canadians require post-secondary education systems that are among the best in the world to translate into a competitive advantage, economic prosperity, and a higher standard of living. However, as was stated by the premiers at the Competing for Tomorrow conference in Ottawa in February, Canada is falling behind in productivity, innovation, and education attainment rates. Therefore, investment in human capital must be a critical priority of the government's social and economic planning and work.
Yukon College recommends that the 2006 budget incorporate a comprehensive agenda that would include major national policies and initiatives to ensure that Canada has the resources in place to build a highly skilled and adaptable workforce. This agenda may be based on a number of principles.
First is inclusivity, providing access to learning opportunities for all Canadians. All Canadians will need to participate in the new economy. Although the federal government can provide leadership, it must be a concerted effort with provinces, territories, and communities.
Second is a strategy to promote a commitment to lifelong learning.
Lastly, as a principle, it should capitalize on the significant contribution that first nations peoples and immigrants make to society and our economy.
We would also recommend the following key components be included.
Number one, the federal government must act now to reinvest in the quality, capacity, and access to Canada's post-secondary and skill systems. The most important role for the Government of Canada to play is to restore the Canada social transfer funding to the 1993-94 level, adjusting for inflation and demographic growth, with an emphasis on public post-secondary education and training.
Number two, a new learner support system is required. The confusion and prevalence of many different types of financial assistance mechanisms for post-secondary learning add access barriers for many current and potential learners.
Number three, investments in infrastructure, including funds for modernization and equipment acquisition, are critical. This must also include increasing our broadband connectivity to rural remote communities through such programs as CANARIE.
Number four, increased research and development and commercialization funding designed, funded, and administered exclusively for colleges and institutes would strengthen the innovative capacity of communities and their small and medium enterprises. This would bring new services and products to market and develop highly skilled expertise to enhance economic development.
I hope you have an opportunity later to look at our submissions in more depth, but I really thank you for your consideration today.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for wanting to hear what the Yukon Child Care Association has to say on these important subjects.
With the socio-economics of our country changing, many of our young people are starting families early rather than getting an education. This place has a great need for available child care spaces for these children, while their parents go to work to support them.
We would suggest tax breaks. Parents need more of a tax break on income tax. With the costs of day care rising, this cost is becoming unaffordable for many.
Education needs to be more accessible for people wanting to access post-secondary education. Raising the education deduction would provide an added benefit to this. We need access to ongoing funding for further training and education and sustainability for testing programs to further education. Infrastructure needs to be in place for stakeholders.
When asked to be on committees, there are lost wages and time is unaccounted for.
Day care needs to be affordable to families who are working. At this time, the accessibility of day care is available to the rich, who can afford to pay for it, and to the poor, who are eligible for subsidies. Many middle-income families are unable to afford day care, leaving children at home who become latch-key children. Implementing a program of affordability would help to alleviate this problem.
Day care is in a crisis right now. They are unable to compete with wages and benefits for their workers. There's also a need to be able to pay proper wages in this industry.
The new child tax benefit that was implemented in July of 2006 is insufficient for families. The $100 does not pay for one child care space or spot per week, leaving many unable to access day care.
Accessibility and sustainability are key to our economic future. Our teens of today are our next generation of the economic workforce. Post-secondary education costs are rising, making it inaccessible to many. Families cannot afford to send all of their children to further education.
Middle-income families cannot obtain child care or higher education, with the rising costs of supporting their families. Day care is in a crisis. We need help from the federal government.
Thank you, Mr. Bagnell.
Yes. With respect to your first question or comment about our core funding for the Council of Yukon First Nations, our core funding is at a very nominal level. It's hard for us to do anything effective. We represent eleven of fourteen first nations governments in the Yukon--through our land claims agreements they are governments. In order for us to effectively carry out the mandate we receive from the chiefs in each one of these communities across the Yukon, our funding has to be brought up to a level where we can effectively meet the needs of the people in the communities.
For a number of years now, there have been promises made at PTOs and tribal councils and whatnot that there would be an increase in funding. We're still waiting. This promise was made three or four years ago, I believe, by the federal government, and we still receive nothing. We have to go hat in hand to the Yukon regional office of INAC every year to ask for a top-up to the funds we currently receive in order to help us carry out our business. It's not only for first nations people; when I sit in that office it's to represent the interests of all Yukoners.
With respect to the cuts in Inuit and first nations health and tobacco strategies, I believe they're very detrimental to a lot of people. When we look at the impact on people, the smoking strategy and the money that was there before helped to educate people about the problems with smoking and whatnot. If we take that away, there'll be more of a burden on the health system: costs will increase, more people will become more sickly. I believe the money shouldn't be cut. If anything, we want to become less and less of a burden on society--if I can use that term--and help our people become healthy. When we continue getting cuts, as first nations organizations and as people across the country, then it goes against some of the very commitments that were made to us.
The cuts to the society of women are also something that of course aren't supported by the Council of Yukon First Nations. When we look at the aboriginal people, the women, they need more funding to help them achieve some of the goals and objectives that have been set out. I've sat in a couple of different meetings with women's societies across the country, and they're struggling to get to their rightful places. If we start to cut back their funds, it's going to make it a lot harder for them to participate and to effectively meet and address their needs.
I will be talking in French, so I encourage you to use the translation if you don't understand French.
First of all, thank you for taking the time to meet with our committee. I can appreciate how very frustrating it must be for you to have only five minutes to make your point, but you have to understand that it is equally frustrating for committee members to have so little time to put questions to witnesses.
I'd like to discuss the subject of climate change with you. More than likely, there are two or three organizations here who could speak to this topic. When discussion arose in the House about meeting Kyoto targets, the Minister of the Environment stated that meeting our commitments would be far too costly, that Canada did not have the means to meet its targets, that it would lead to economic disaster, that it would spell the demise of the transportation industry, and so on and so forth. I found it all rather amusing, this coming from the Conservatives who are a sympathetic lot and always manage to make MPs smile a little.
What's not funny, however, is thinking about the rather devastating impact of climate change in the North, where the initial effects are now being felt. My question is for Ms. Baltgailis from the Yukon Conservation Society. However, it is also directed to the representatives of the Yukon Tourism Industry Association and the Yukon Council of First Nations.
Does global warming have some concrete repercussions for northern communities, from both a social and an economic standpoint, and if so, will the impact be so significant to warrant action?
That will be done, Mr. James.
Statement by Mr. Stanley James: Good morning, Mr. Pallister, vice-chairs, and members of the standing committee.
I'm Stanley James, chair of the board of directors of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon.
Thank you for the invitation to make a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance regarding Canada's place in a competitive world.
The standing committee wishes to hear how citizens and business can prosper in the future, can be healthy, have proper skills, and be given incentives to work and to save. The committee also wishes to hear how program spending measures should be implemented to meet those aspirations.
In 1979, recognizing that aboriginal northerners had serious concerns about the lack of representation of indigenous languages, customs, and cultures, the CRTC established the extension of service to northern and remote communities committee. The committee recommended that federal funding be provided to develop aboriginal broadcasting networks in order to meet Canada's obligation to provide indigenous people opportunities to preserve our languages and culture.
In March of 1983, the northern native broadcast access program was created to support the production and distribution of relevant aboriginal programming to the northern indigenous population. The access program funds thirteen non-profit communications societies, one of which is Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon.
In 1984, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon was incorporated as a non-profit society governed by the fourteen first nations of the Yukon.
Following a two-year training program, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon staff, consisting of five aboriginal individuals, began broadcasting radio programming on CHON-FM on February 1, 1985, to six Yukon communities, seven hours a day, five days a week.
In 1986, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon carried out a one-year television training program. The following year it produced its first season of half-hour programs broadcast across the Yukon and Northwest Territories on the CBC North television system.
Shortly after that, on February 1, 1991, Television Northern Canada went on the air. Television Northern Canada was created as members of northern aboriginal communications societies, including ourselves, took on the challenge of providing television services from the north to the north.
In 1999, Television Northern Canada underwent a change. It became the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Canada's national aboriginal broadcaster.
Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon currently provides 26 hours of original programming to that network in a variety of languages, including English. We also broadcast original radio programming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our radio signal streams over the World Wide Web.
The majority of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon key and support staff are members of first nations and are intimately familiar with the languages, cultures, and communities of Yukon, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, and Alaska.
From the beginning, over 150 individuals have been involved in the organization in some way or other. Employees, directors of the board, contractors, consultants, and independent producers all have had a significant role to play in the growth of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon and its contribution to the social, cultural, and economic fabric of northern society.
Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon has played, and continues to play, a role as an economic generator. Since its launch, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon has injected approximately $21 million into the Yukon economy. It has been the main trainer and employee of aboriginal people wishing to enter into a career in electronic broadcasting in the Yukon.
The northern native broadcast access program is administered by the aboriginal programs directorate of Canadian Heritage.
Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon submits an application annually to the department for core funding. A contribution agreement provides just over $1 million to the organization per fiscal year. The organization in turn must provide the department with quarterly activity and financial statements to trigger payments. Each year the department has been late in advising recipients of the status of their applications.
This year Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon did not receive written notice from the department until September 18 that our application was approved and a cheque for the first quarter only was appended. That's six months into a 12-month fiscal year.
This arrangement creates and maintains a false sense of economy and is designed to ensure that non-profit societies are always only a step away from failure.
The program has not kept pace with the needs of the societies it helped establish. Core funding has not increased to match the cost of living, which means our paycheques are worth less each year.
In an era of rapid technological change, funding to replace and upgrade aging and obsolete equipment is not factored into the program.
In spite of these challenges, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon is a first nation success story. We've established ourselves as a credible communications operation from the production and distribution of radio and television programming from a first nations perspective.
We train and employ first nations people in all aspects of the industry. We play a key role in protecting, encouraging, enhancing, and perpetuating the language and culture of Yukon first nations people on the local, national, and international level.
Against that backdrop, we see ourselves as being a player in Canada's pursuit of a place in a competitive world.
To that end, to help us achieve that goal, we have recommendations for your consideration. These are not new. We've made these recommendations to other standing committees, and to federal government policy researchers, and we'll repeat them here for you.
We recommend that the federal government recognize that aboriginal broadcasting is an integral part of Canadian public broadcasting; that it strengthen and entrench the position of aboriginal broadcasters in the Broadcast Act, federal policies, and regulations.
We recommend continuing to invest in the societies and provide adequate funding for (i) operations and productions, (ii) the upgrade of transmitting and production equipment, and (iii) training and capacity development.
And we recommend modifying the funding process to enable multi-year agreements.
Mr. Pallister and members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, this concludes our presentation to you.
The CEO of Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon, Ms. Shirley Adamson, is here with me today. Together we'll be happy to address any questions you have of us.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much for the opportunity to address your committee.
The Association of Yukon Communities represents all incorporated municipalities and elected local advisory councils in Yukon. Over 80% of the population of Yukon reside in member communities of the association.
When we met with this committee in November 2004 we asked that existing levels of federal transfer payments to Yukon grow to meet the increasing population. We also asked that the current level of infrastructure funding be increased to support municipal infrastructure, railroads, and highways. Finally, we also asked that the distribution formula, such as the 1% baseline funding amount used for the municipal rural infrastructure fund, which mitigates the inequities of simple per capita funding for northern programs, be considered for inclusion.
I am pleased to report that our requests were heard and are reflected in federal funding programs such as the municipal rural infrastructure fund, the green municipal fund, the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund, the strategic investment northern economic development fund, and the Canada-Yukon gas tax sharing agreement.
The sustainability of Yukon communities is important to Canada. Yukon's mineral resources, its boreal forests, and pristine rivers are of significant Canadian economic value. Yukon communities are the protectors of the sovereignty of those resources and the gateways to them.
In the next couple of minutes I want to tell you about a very important need of Yukon municipalities. Healthy and sustainable communities cannot exist on user fees and property taxes in the territory alone. There is an infrastructure deficit in Yukon communities. This deficit has been reduced through federal programs such as the municipal rural infrastructure fund, the Canadian strategic infrastructure fund, and the Canada-Yukon gas tax sharing agreement, but the deficit still exists and is growing.
At the same time, older infrastructure is deteriorating and being added to the list for replacement. It would appear, for instance, that global warming might increase the permafrost melt in Dawson City, rapidly increasing the maintenance and replacement costs of sewer and water infrastructure in that town. Eliminating the infrastructure deficit will require long-term planning and sustained federal contributions.
The federal gas tax sharing model for infrastructure funding shows great promise for Yukon communities. In that model, funds are allocated directly to Yukon municipalities and first nations for the period of the agreement. Matching funds are not required. Long-term planning through the development of integrated community sustainability plans is required for all recipients under the gas tax agreement.
The gas tax sharing model has the following significant advantages: the process of developing long-term sustainability plans has brought communities together; first nations are working with municipal governments to share ideas and facilities; very small municipalities, with very small property tax bases and limited borrowing capacity, are freed from the requirement of producing matching funds and can fund their priorities, rather than being levered into sharing the burden of territorial priorities.
Our recommendations to the committee are that the federal gas tax sharing program be continued, with expanded project eligibility to include economic development, parks, recreation, culture, and other social infrastructure. Other programs applicable to Yukon communities should be designed, taking into consideration the unique needs and limited capacities of small rural and remote communities. Early collaboration with the territorial government and the association of communities should be required and is in fact essential if the long-term needs of Yukon communities are to be met.
Thank you very much for your interest in coming to the territory and hearing from all of us. We really do appreciate it.
Thank you for inviting the Yukon Council on Aging to participate in your pre-budget consultation.
I'd like to address your first theme, that is, that our citizens are healthy, have proper skills, and are presented with appropriate incentives to work and save.
When we speak of citizens, we must include all citizens of Canada, including the growing senior and elder population. In order to keep the older population healthy, we must invest in their needs--physical, emotional, and mental. When money is designated for programs, some must be designated for that purpose, instead of territorial and provincial governments putting it into general coffers and overlooking the needs of this minority of the population. Good examples of this are affordable housing for seniors, preventive health care for seniors, and programs specifically for seniors in poverty.
There has long been a myth that all seniors are rich. From the top of the bureaucracy, this may appear to be true, but it is not. There are hundreds of thousands of seniors and elders across our country existing on meagre pensions through no fault of their own. This will continue to be the case because there will always be workers in the service industries, families that could not save for their retirement or that do not work for companies offering pensions. We need people in appropriate government departments who can look beyond what they will have when they retire and see the reality. We need to review the pension system in Canada so it will help those most in need instead of punishing them.
More skilled workers are needed in Canada. We have a generation of skilled workers who were forced to retire because they became “that age”. While we are training new workers, we need to encourage those skilled workers to come back, if only on a part-time basis, and help us. To do this we need to offer incentives. Tax incentives would help those in the middle- or high-income bracket. It would not help the lower-income-bracket seniors who most need the income because their income is so low they do not pay taxes.
Seniors who are making $13,000 a year cannot afford to go out and help themselves because they are penalized if they do. If they are receiving the guaranteed income supplement, it will be taken away from them, and they may even have to pay some of it back. If they live in government-subsidized housing, they must give their territorial or provincial government 25% of everything they earn. The same is true of young people living in subsidized housing. Where is the incentive to do better? There must be a ceiling on these rental costs. Seniors on GIS must be allowed to make a set amount that will take them up or just above the poverty level before they are penalized and it is clawed back.
We have seniors and elders who are skilled workers who can fill the breach until more are trained, but we penalize them rather than encouraging them. We need programs to address the specific needs of senior health care and health care prevention programs for seniors. Seniors are willing to help themselves if they are given the guidance to do so. There has been a great deal of work done in the field of aging research, but no follow-up to put the research into good use. We cannot have healthy people if they do not have affordable and adequate housing. We need CMHC to be more than a mortgage corporation. We need them back for affordable housing support. As a country, we should be ashamed of the housing that many of our seniors and elders live in.
How does all this fit into your theme as a meaningful place in the world of the future and maximize our potential as a nation? The skilled workers of yesterday are those who can help fill the gap until new skilled workers are trained. It gives a purpose to the lives of many seniors and elders and gives them respect and dignity. It makes for a healthier country. How can you ignore the needs of the people who brought Canada to the great country it is today and expect to continue to portray ourselves as a great investment? It would by a hypocrisy.
Thank you for your time today.
Thank you to the committee. We appreciate the timeliness of your being here, since we're here to talk about museum issues.
I'm the executive director of a local museum. We are the territory's first and largest museum. We have the largest collection in the territory. I have outlined in my briefing some of the history of the institution, which I'm not going to address.
What I am going to say is that we were federally funded in 2003 to do an audience evaluation of Yukoners and Whitehorse citizens. In that audience evaluation we heard that museums have a strong role in our community to protect and promote our heritage and that they have a role in delivering education on Canadian heritage.
What we heard specifically about MacBride Museum from people in Whitehorse was that they want more local programs, lectures, and history about us, about the city of Whitehorse and about the Yukon, and not just a tourism attraction, which is in part what we are for our community. We also heard that they expect to see that the artifacts they donate to the institution make it into our exhibits.
Since that time we have developed nine curriculum-linked programs for education. We deliver approximately 200 programs each year into the local audience. In 2005, in Whitehorse, there were 4,500 local citizens--from a population of approximately 24,000--who attended events at MacBride Museum. Our attendance is up 20% since 2003.
I am here in part to say that we are very disappointed to hear our national government say that the funding for the programs that support us is both wasteful and not a priority for Canadians. Overall we are seeing increased attendance at museums across Canada. There are 2,000 small community or regional museums like the one I run, and the only way we are able to put funding together is like a jigsaw puzzle of funding from our municipalities, from the federal government program, and from our earned revenue. At MacBride Museum our revenue is 35% earned, 35% funded by the territorial government, approximately 10% to 15% municipal, and then depending upon whether or not we've been successful in applying for federal programs, we've received between 9% and 20% of our funding from the federal government over the last four years. We appreciate that funding, and we are extremely concerned to see a national cut to MAP. MAP does not fund museums in Ottawa; it funds regional, community museums. If you're going to cut that program by 25%, I would like you to tell me where I am going to get the $70,000 that I got from the federal government in the last two years to deliver our online content for rural schools in the Yukon and do back-of-house work on our collections.
Governments love to fund exhibits and they love to fund presentations. Without the funding for the back-of-house, we are unable to do that work. The MAP program is the only program in the federal government that is dedicated exclusively to museums, and it allows us to do back-of-house work.
I would encourage you not only to continue to fund MAP, but also to increase the funding for MAP to expand the criteria under which MAP travelling exhibits are funded. Right now travelling exhibits are funded only if I want to do an exhibit and send it to Ontario. The Yukon has a huge geography. I would like to do an exhibit and send it to the rest of the territory so we can share in our own history and culture. That does not qualify for funding at any level of government.
We would also like you to give consideration to summer student funding. In the past three years at the museum I operate, our funding for summer students has been halved, and that is typical of what's happened across the territory. We're in a competitive environment. We are trying to introduce kids to careers and culture, and we can't get funding for their positions.
In addition to that, we would also like you to look at continuing funding for the Canadian Council of Archives. It is the only place where I, as a museum director, have any ability to access direct funding for our archives....
I've been given the hook and I've no idea where I was.
Voices: Oh, oh!
Thank you, and welcome to the north.
I think we all know that research in technology, or technological innovation and development, are major drivers of any nation and any regional competitiveness. In fact, it's a driver of human history. It has assisted people in developing marketable and competitive products, which is often the way people look at it, but it also helps us provide better services, it helps us protect our environment, and it also helps us better understand ourselves, our past, the landscape we live on, and where our future may lie.
Historically in Canada research and development investment has been increasing over the years. The latest figures I've seen are about $24.5 billion invested in 2004-05. Yet the north represents a good half of the Canadian landscape the way we define it. It also represents about half of the diversity in terms of Canada's landscape, and the federal investment in northern science and technology, according to the last figures that were available, which are about three years old now, was about $133 million.
The international polar year is the longest established program of coordinated international research. It goes back 125 years. It was the first year of anything. It was a recognition that the north was a hard place to get to, it was a hard place to do research in. And you could stand there in your little ship, if it didn't sink, and hope that, by gosh, you could see what was happening here, but you didn't understand what was going on and what was driving it over the horizon. That was the birthplace of the international polar year. There have been three of them since.
To give you an example of how that has helped Canada, in 1932, in the middle of the Depression, the University of Saskatchewan sent four expeditions north to look at the aurora. Why the aurora? People were starting to realize the aurora was interfering with Canadian radio. They didn't know why. They didn't know how. But these four expeditions went north. That levered into the next polar year in 1957-58, the international geophysical year, a major push by a large number of countries. Churchill became a major rocket base to study the upper atmospheric phenomena. In reality there were over 2,000 rockets blasted by both Canada and the United States. Those same people became the leaders, those four graduate students of the University of Saskatchewan.
The University of Saskatchewan and Saskatoon are now a hub of space-related research because of that. They're very proud of it. There's an estimated billion dollars worth of activity that goes on annually around space, space monitoring, and earth observation out of that area.
In 2007-08 it's actually a two-year international polar year, and some of us know it's already ongoing. It involves over 60 countries, over 60,000 scientists. It involves youth, it involves aboriginal organizations, it involves non-government organizations, academics, and what have you. Canada is the largest northern polar nation in terms of land in the polar region. It's a major player.
I passed around a chart, and I didn't have enough of the pretty coloured ones for you, but the green on this chart represents Canadian involvement in this polar year. Each one of those grids is a major program, maybe 100 studies. I think it gives an indication of just how involved we are. What we need for the future is to build on the legacy, the momentum, of this polar year. We need to look at academic institutions in the north. We're the only northern country without a northern university. We need to look at research stations and platforms. They've deteriorated over the last fifty years, for the most part. There are some good examples of progress made in Quebec, for instance, but elsewhere they're in bad shape. We need to look at technical innovation. We can market that technical innovation. There's a program that you've had a little handout on, something that's going on in the Yukon in terms of a centre to test technological innovation and make those moves forward in the Yukon, but there are other initiatives going on elsewhere across the north. We also have to build on Antarctica.
Thank you very much.
Thank you for inviting us to be here today.
I'm going to talk to you about some of the same points that Patricia already made but in more general terms.
The Yukon Historical and Museums Association is the umbrella organization for Yukon museums and heritage societies. There are currently about eighteen museums, art galleries, and first nations cultural centres in the Yukon, which represent very diverse cultures and histories that really portray who we are as Yukoners.
In the Yukon, they're not only important culturally but also economically. A recent study showed that heritage attractions contributed about $3.3 million towards the Yukon's GDP and provided up to 10.4% of employment in communities outside Whitehorse.
For visitors coming to the Yukon, it's the third largest attraction and it's what people do when they come here. It's proven that it helps to encourage tourists to spend an extra day in the communities, which thereby boosts local spending in some of the communities that rely heavily on tourism as the main economic generator.
Having said that, museums are non-profit organizations, and we're faced with difficulties in securing funding. In the Yukon especially, we don't have a lot of large private companies to go to for funding support and that kind of thing. We rely heavily on the Yukon government and through federal government programs for funding to meet the needs of museums, whether it's student funding, project costs, or that kind of thing.
We were encouraged to see that the Conservative government has pledged to review the development of a federal museums policy, as it's important. Many levels for federal funding to museums are the same as they were in 1972. As you can imagine, insurance and general costs of living have increased by quite a bit since that time. It's not enough for us to be able to continue operating in the way that we would like to.
As Patricia mentioned, the museums assistance program is very important to us. It's a longstanding program, and museums in the Yukon have been using the program since its early inception in the 1970s.
The fund helped to do planning studies for the MacBride Museum, the Dawson City Museum, and the Yukon Transportation Museum. These are the Yukon's largest and most important museums. They house collections of hundreds of thousands of artifacts. They have also helped with funding for oral history for first nations and have helped the YHMA itself by doing training studies and developing joint marketing initiatives for museums.
To assist the Yukon museums, MAP annually contributes at least $150,000, if not more, to Yukon museums. You can see that it's a very important program for us and is used quite a bit.
Summer student funding is also a big issue. We have continued to advocate for increased funding to the summer career placement program and the Young Canada Works program. Students rely on this funding to gain the skills they need to start in the heritage sector and to continue in that sector.
In 2005 there were applications for funding for summer career placement that were worth approximately $500,000, but only $200,000 was available. All of these jobs were worthwhile and could have used the funding. We would implore you to increase that funding.
I'll quickly wrap it up. I want to quickly touch on the commercial heritage properties incentive fund. The heritage properties incentive is very important for Canadian heritage and for preserving our heritage places. By cancelling this fund, there hasn't been a chance for it to develop and grow or to see that the programs are worthwhile.
On behalf of the Yukon Historical Museums Association and our members, thank you very much.
Hi. Thank you very much for having us here today.
This year Statistics Canada showed that 42% of Canadians have low literacy. The need for investment in literacy programs has never been higher. Despite this, on September 25 the federal government announced $17.7 million in cuts to literacy through the adult learning, literacy, and essential skills program, known as ALLESP. These cuts will affect the Yukon by a monetary value of approximately $300,000, the amount eliminated from the local, regional, and coalition funding streams.
Joe Clark, a former Conservative leader, once called Canada a “community of communities”. We couldn't agree more. We believe we are a country connected by ideals and by beliefs, but unique in our needs. The literacy needs of a little fishing town in Newfoundland are not the same as the literacy needs of Old Crow or Burwash Landing. This is why local and regional literacy funding was so important. It had the ability to deliver services that met the unique cultural and regional needs of learners.
In addition to local and regional funding cuts, the federal budget included the elimination of literacy coalition funding. Literacy coalitions exist in every province and territory and are integral to literacy. They provide practitioner support and training, develop research materials, disseminate literacy information, promote the value of literacy skills, and conduct literacy research.
The federal government created provincial and territorial literacy coalitions sixteen years ago, and since then coalitions have spearheaded successful, innovative literacy programs and activities across the country. Without coalitions, across this country the practitioners and stakeholders, and most of all the learners, will suffer.
Literacy programming was cut because it was categorized as not having good value for money. We strongly disagree. We know that literacy impacts the economy in a multitude of ways. When the first international adult literacy survey, IALS, was released, Statistics Canada indicated that a 1% increase in literacy skills in this country would lead to a $15 billion increase in the GDP. How can literacy skills not be considered of good value when such a small increase would make such an enormous financial impact?
While there is a value to high literacy skills, there is also a cost to low literacy. People with low literacy are more likely to become involved in the justice system, both as victims and offenders. They leave a bigger burden on the health care system, frequenting hospitals more often and having higher morbidity and mortality rates. They are more likely to require social assistance or live in low-income situations. The costs of illiteracy are widespread and significant.
But literacy is about more than a bottom line. Literacy allows Canadians to fully function in their society, to be active, strong citizens. It is a value that exceeds dollar signs and balance sheets.
I must admit that it seems kind of funny for us to present before the Standing Committee on Finance only one week after the funding was cut in such a drastic manner. I'm not sure if the standing committee is looking for requests or is looking for advice. I'm not sure what exactly is being asked of us.
If we did have some advice or requests to give, it would be that the federal government relook at these cuts in literacy and really consider what the long-term impact of these changes would be, what would happen without the regional and local funding for literacy, and how literacy across the country is to proceed in a unified way without the literacy coalitions that keep it moving.
Thank you very much for allowing us to present.
First of all, welcome and thank you for your presentation to the committee.
I was particularly interested in Mr. Graham's presentation. He talked about the permafrost that was melting in a number of locations. As far as Kyoto is concerned, the Canadian North is one region in particular where the devastating effects of climate change are being observed.
I'd like to focus on comments made earlier by Mr. Wallace. For the sake of clarity, the Kyoto Protocol is, first and foremost, a series of international targets that countries have set for themselves. There is nothing in the Protocol that says we have to buy emission credits from Russia to reach our targets. Absolutely nothing at all.
Admittedly, the Protocol does set out emission credit principles. Global warming is a widespread phenomenon and it's less expensive to reduce greenhouse gases in some places than in others. Therefore, countries in which this process is too costly can buy credits, and in so doing, they help out countries where reducing greenhouse gases is a less costly undertaking.
That being said, I don't think this is the best solution. The Bloc Québécois has always maintained that the best approach is first and foremost to invest in reducing greenhouse gas emission levels here in Canada. Buying emission credits and paying other countries to lower their emission levels is an interim solution. That's more or less what the Liberals were proposing.
The third option put forward by the Conservatives consisted of paying oil and other companies to pollute. In my view, that's the worst possible option. Therefore, I don't subscribe to the Conservative's argument which goes like this: The Liberals were bad, so let's be worse. I don't think we should be embarking on that course of action.
Are bearded environmentalists alone in viewing Kyoto as a major concern? If global warming continues at the present rate, what significant economic impact will this have on your communities?
No doubt Mr. Graham and Mr. Church can elaborate on this subject.
I think there are two or three things I'd like to say on this. I spend a lot of time on the climate change issue
First, technical adaptation and also social adaptation--how we adjust to the climate change that's going to happen no matter what we do--are key problems. Then obviously there is how we lessen the change.
With respect to Kyoto, you're absolutely right that it doesn't require you to do one approach or the other. But those approaches are available to you. You're right that just buying credits doesn't necessarily solve the problem over the long term. We're talking probably 60% to 80% reductions over the next 50 or 100 years.
In the north, we have major infrastructure problems. We need investment in technology and new technologies, because as people said, the ground is actually changing underneath us. Our foundation is changing. We have to understand the processes that are going on, and we need science to understand it.
I don't think people understood a hundred years ago that the polar regions were huge drivers of the climate systems on the globe. It's not just that the north is changing, but that the north can actually accelerate the system on a global basis. Methane release and all these kinds of concepts could make all our other efforts useless if we don't understand what's going on in the north.
We also have to understand that as part of adaptation there are issues of self-sufficiency, issues about how people in the north sustain themselves--sustainable communities--because in reality the technologies and the things we count on now may not be the most climate change friendly approaches to doing things. You know, with regard to bringing in orange juice from wherever we bring in orange juice, or even worse, bringing in fresh oranges, maybe there are ways of taking advantage of a change in climate to make northerners more self-sufficient and less dependent on pursuing climate unfriendly approaches.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you to all of you for being here and for your good presentations. As policy-makers, collectively, all of us really value the input and the insight you give us.
My first question is for Mr. Graham.
We heard similar issues from Fort St. John and other municipalities.
One of the difficulties I see is that in a democracy there are lines of accountability. Municipalities are creatures of the province; in fact their legislation is provincial legislation, which governs them. The federal government made an agreement with the provinces for gas money, but if the federal government starts leaping over the heads of the provinces, funding municipalities directly, then the lines of accountability become blurred, because then the municipality is not only accountable to their own taxpayers and to the province—their legislation—but now somehow, without legislation, is also responsible to the federal level of government. It seems to me that makes it extremely difficult for municipalities.
My question to you is, have you discussed this matter with the provinces? Is there a willingness in the province to have more flexible lines of communication, more flexibility in meeting your concerns through the legislation responsible for municipalities? Otherwise I think we're going to get into quite a mess, so to speak, as to who does what and who is accountable to whom, and all of those things.
There was a debate earlier about whether there were cuts to the MAP program. Anyone who wants to know about all the cuts that we're talking about should go to the Government of Canada website or the Treasury Board website.
You'll see museums, and I think $9 million a year is mentioned. It's a tiny amount for the thousands of museums in Canada, and it's one of the most underfunded areas. You'll see the two-year saving of $4,630,000 right on the website.
If I get a chance later, I'll ask the museum people this. Did the cuts to the volunteer initiative and summer students also hurt you? Do you use volunteers? We all know the answer.
I'd also like to acknowledge Beth Mulloy, from the Yukon Literacy Coalition, who's over there getting coffee. Of all the input from Yukoners and Canadians, they seem to be most apoplectic and angry and find the cuts to literacy to be incomprehensible.
My question is to anyone who wants to answer, but it's particularly to museums and literacy and Sierra.
Over and above being angry about these cuts across Canada, for groups in the Yukon, the second biggest problem is that people have come to me and said there was no consultation. This came right out of the blue, and it's surprising that they're going to have to make these dramatic adjustments, lay off people, etc., not knowing when it's coming.
How much consultation, if any, was there with the museums and literacy in particular, and anyone else who was cut?