During 1996-97 the intake of statements to be written was lower than forecast and this contributed to a fall in the number of statements awaiting preparation. The number of staff preparing statements reduced last year, but procedures were streamlined to increase productivity. The fall in the backlog has continued during 1997-98, but future performance will depend on the impact of the Caseworking Programme on the statement writing process. The main function of the Home Office Asylum Directorate is to consider and tax depreciation quantity surveyors determine asylum claims. The efficiency of the Directorate has improved in recent years and in 1996, some 39,000 initial decisions were made on asylum applications, an increase of nearly 45 per cent compared to 1995.
This is the highest number of decisions made in a single year and can be mostly attributed to the expansion of the short procedure. referred to in previous reports, which is now standard for most applications and the continuing effects of the spend to save initiative. Under this initiative the Department of Social Security was able to use money from its budget to fund extra staff in Asylum Directorate. The aim was to aid quicker processing of asylum applications, thereby saving the DSS money in the longer term which would otherwise have been paid out in benefits.
Other interesting work includes the Asylum Working Group in Brussels to agree measures concerning the practice. In particular, the Home Office will be overseeing the operation of the recently ratified Dublin Convention and aiming to open the draft EURODAC Convention for signature. or if that has already been done priority will be given to identifying the necessary implementing measures. In October 1996, a new unit, the Croydon Enforcement Unit was established at Lunar House. Its purpose has been to identify immigration offenders when they apply for asylum.
The unexpectedly large increase in the number of applications received has led to an increase in the time taken to process them. Nevertheless, at the end of September 1997, the average waiting time for independent registrations was 6.3 months compared with 7.1 months at the same stage in 1996. The average waiting time for applications for naturalisation and the registration of any dependent children associated with them has, however, risen to 17.6 months compared with 15.2 months in November 1996.
Government and industry’s efforts to increase the number of winter visitors to the Yukon are being given a boost. The Winter Tourism Marketing Committee, a sub-committee of the Yukon Tourism Marketing Partnership, The Yukon Tourism Marketing Partnership is a cooperative effort between the tourism industry and the department of Tourism. This has long been a wish of the industry and I am glad our efforts have paid off in this way, We recognize that we need to build new markets for the Yukon, so we will market directly into Toronto while attempting to increase tourism this winter in ‘backyard’ markets such as British Columbia and Alberta.
In backyard markets such as Fort St. John and Grande Prairie the focus will be on winter events such as Trek over the Top, First Nation and Yukon government have signed an accord identifying a framework for government-to-government relations. The accord framework describes how the two governments will deal with issues of mutual interest and how they will work together on five topics of special importance to both governments. Tombstone Park, C-4 lands development and management, reviving the Han language, the Forty mile Caribou Herd and joint tourism and economic development are the common priority areas named in the accord.
Having an accord such as this is fundamental to a positive working relationship with the, house depreciation schedule report I look forward to continuing a positive working relationship with Chief Darren Taylor and his council. The accord is built on the principles of an effective and respectful government-to government working relationship.
This includes sharing mutual interests and concerns while developing practical ways for departments and agencies to work together in the efficient delivery of programs and services in the traditional territory of the, It sets out how our government and the Yukon government wish to work closely together on common priorities. This is the third accord signed by the Yukon government with First Nations.
A review by the Yukon Film Commission indicates the Yukon Film Incentive Program brought about $2 million in direct spending by film production companies to the Yukon. The Yukon Film Incentive Program makes it possible for the Yukon to compete against other film locations around the world for the jobs and significant spending that film productions bring with them, The program has invested more than $198,886 to generate about $2 million in direct spending in the Yukon economy a return on investment of 10:1.