Transcript of meeting #1 for Midterm Review Committee in the 18th Assembly. (The original version is on the Legislative Assembly's site.) The winning word was work.

The winning word was work.

On the agenda

MLAs speaking

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Cochrane.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. When I think about support for small communities, actually, a lot comes to my mind. Within the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, we have put money into small communities. We put a lot of money into small communities. In fact, that's reflected in our core needs report. The difference between 2009 and 2014, how the core needs in small communities have actually gotten better at the cost of bigger communities such as Yellowknife where the core needs have increased because of that, so I need to look at a balance as well. Small communities as well… Doing the housing survey; that is about asking the people, what do you want versus us sitting up here in our nice chairs and deciding what is best for people. It is on the ground. It is asking the people, what do you want, and listening to them, and revising our policy and programs because of that. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs: it's all about supporting small communities and communities in general. They provide extra support to small communities in regards to their community leadership and the supports they can do. They also provide great programming for youth. They provide leadership programs, and not only physical activity but leadership so that we can actually get more youth that are actually role models to the communities. The more role models we have, the healthier communities are; positive role models, not negative, of course. Women in leadership: doing the workshops. Women are huge decision makers in communities. Many communities, women are underrepresented. The more workshops that we do, the more women that take leadership roles, the better, the healthier, the communities will be. I believe that all departments that I oversee have done a lot for small communities. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Sebert.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Chair. As is the case with other Ministers, I've had an opportunity to go around to many of the smaller communities including the Member opposite', smaller communities that I had the opportunity of visiting this summer. Some of the concerns I heard during those visits, not only in his riding but in other ridings, was the importance of land tenure and ownership. People want to have the ability to improve their houses, build their businesses, and they need certainty as to the ownership, and that is why we are hoping to address this issue of equity leases which hopefully will improve the economic situation in small communities. In the area of justice, one of the programs that has been quite successful is the legal aid outreach which has been delivering legal services to the more remote communities, and hopefully reducing the cost of those legal services that otherwise could probably be only obtained in the larger centres. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Abernethy.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, the Member's question seemed to be more focused on things that aren't in the mandate, so I'd like to talk about a few of the things that may not appear as direct lines in the mandate but are part of core business, or part of some of the things that we're doing. Ultimately, many of the things that we're doing in Health and Social Services are tied directly to the mandate in some capacity. There's no question that it is a challenge to ensure that residents in our small communities have equitable access to programs and services that are available to residents in the larger centres. During my time as Minister, I've made it a priority to get into as many communities, all communities, from the Northwest Territories to meet with residents, to hear from them, to hear about the issues that are important to them, but also to hear from them on recommendations on how to make improvements, because I truly believe that communities are the experts who can provide us real solutions, real local solutions. In that light, we've done a couple of things differently in the Department of Health and Social Services. We're trying new things. We've been working with the community of Tsiigehtchic to put in a pilot program where we could train local people to do local work and provide emergency response when there are crisis in the communities. When there have been some suicide and other challenges in communities, we have gone to communities. We have sent them the extra capacity into the communities to help the communities go through those crises, but we haven't directed or led those particular initiatives because the communities have some of the best ideas. We want to work with the communities. In two different communities in the Northwest Territories, Fort Good Hope and Fort Simpson, Fort Good Hope provided us with a plan on how they wanted to move forward, and how we can be partners in addressing those issues. We're still waiting for a plan from Simpson, but they're working hard on a plan to help them address things like suicide and other things, and we want to work closely with them when they roll out that plan. Mr. Speaker, it's about working with the communities, hearing from the communities, taking their ideas. Thank you.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Questions to Ministers. I have next on my list: Member Blake.

Mr. Blake's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

October 5th, 2017

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I know it's on the minds of many people throughout the territory. The Ministers are given a great responsibility through their departments, and I know I've heard many people say this, so I'd like to ask the Ministers: within your departments, are you taking a lead role in decision making, or are you simply reading the lines that the department gives you? Thank you, Mr. Chair.

---LAUGHTER

Mr. Blake's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Robert C. McLeod.

Mr. Blake's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Can't take it as notice, can we?

---LAUGHTER

No, I think one of the reasons is that we are where we are is our ability to take a lead role. I think it would be evident quick enough if we are just reading the lines that are given to us. We do have meetings with our departments. If there are some things we do not agree with, we let them know. If there are some items that the Members have raised with us, then we raise that with the departments. There is a lot of pushback between the Ministers and the department, and I think that's a healthy relation, like the relationship we have with the Regular Members. There's some give and take. There's some back and forth. We can't always agree on everything, but that's what makes this an interesting building to work in. The short answer to the question is, no. Personally, I take a lead role. Thank you.

Mr. Blake's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Minister Abernethy.

Mr. Blake's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I think anybody who actually knows me, knows that I am not particularly a mouthpiece. I may talk a lot, but I'm not a mouthpiece for other people. I listen to the MLAs in this House; I listen to the people of the Northwest Territories. My role as a Minister is to bring political change, and change to the departments of Health and Social Services and the other departments that I have been responsible for. I know I do drive the departments crazy once in a while trying to bring these initiatives forward, pushing them forward as fast as we had, but I provide political direction to the departments. When it comes to answering MLA responses on constituent issues, there are some legislation limitations, and I'm not prepared to break legislation, but if there are barriers or problems with dealing with constituent issues, we need to work together to change those policies. We need to work together to change those pieces of legislation. When it comes to constituent issues or program issues, I am bound by the policies that exist, but I'm prepared to change them when appropriate, and when it's providing political direction, I'm giving the direction to the department. I do accept their wisdom and their experiences because some of them have different training than you and I have, and we do have to respect those people that are in the system, but the political direction is coming from me, from this Assembly. Thank you.

Mr. Blake's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Sebert.

Mr. Blake's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Of course, we do listen to the MLAs in this House, and we also listen to the expertise that is provided by our departments, but ultimately, the political direction that we provide is ours. We are responsible for it. I am fortunate that at least one of the departments that I work with, Justice, I have long experience as a lawyer: approximately 40 years. In Lands, I have to rely more on their expertise because I am not as familiar with the department. Ultimately, however, the decisions are ours, and I provide political direction to them, and I do not simply always agree with what they suggest. Thank you.

Mr. Blake's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Cochrane.