This is page numbers 51 - 80 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was board.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Titus Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Mr. Arngna'naaq, Hon. James Arvaluk, Hon. Michael Ballantyne, Mr. Bernhardt, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Mr. Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Mr. Nerysoo, Mr. Ningark, Hon. Dennis Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Mr. Todd, Hon. Tony Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

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The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Good afternoon. Item 2, Ministers' Statements. Item 3, Members' Statements. Mr. Koe.

The Review Of The W.c.b.
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 51

Fred Koe Inuvik

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to express some serious concerns over matters dealing with the Workers' Compensation Board. Honourable Members will recall that in June of this year, the Standing Committee on Agencies, Boards and Commissions tabled a comprehensive report on the review of the Workers' Compensation Board. The report included a total of 27 recommendations.

The key recommendations focused upon a legislative review process which would result in the legislative action paper to be completed by December 31, 1992. This would eventually lead to some very necessary and long overdue amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act. The standing committee was assured, during its public hearings, that both the Minister and the board were fully aware of the need to amend this outdated statute. The Minister stated clearly that he agreed with the process laid out in the interim and final reports of the standing committee and that he would be proceeding with the legislative review as quickly as possible. He also indicated that the Workers' Compensation Board has identified sufficient funding for the legislative review.

I have become increasingly concerned about the apparent lack of progress that the Minister has been making with respect to implementing this legislative review and the other recommendations including the standing committee's report. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the committee found that although the Workers' Compensation Board staff are hard working people, some definite problems exist with regard to the way Workers' Compensation services are being delivered in the Northwest Territories.

The situation with the W.C.B. has become even more critical with the absolutely shocking rate increases being forced upon employers next year, especially during a period of serious recession. There is also an investigation into the misappropriation of funds which appears to be stuck in the mud.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue with my statement.

The Review Of The W.c.b.
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

The honourable Member is seeking unanimous consent. Are there any nays? There are no nays, please proceed, Mr. Koe.

The Review Of The W.c.b.
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Fred Koe Inuvik

Thank you, my colleagues. Mr. Speaker, their interim appointments, which expire in January, and the board has also announced a public forum in Yellowknife this Wednesday. Why is this being held if rate setting decisions have already been made? Will similar forums be held anywhere other than in Yellowknife? These are critical issues for both the workers and employers in the Northwest Territories. They cannot be left to back room discussions and closed door briefing sessions. They must be discussed on the floor of this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, today my colleagues and I will be asking the Minister questions on the issues and concerns of the Workers' Compensation Board and Mr. Speaker, I trust the Minister will be forthcoming with his answers. Mahsi.

---Applause

The Review Of The W.c.b.
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Item 3, Members' Statements. Mr. Todd.

Legislative Review Of The W.c.b.
Item 3: Members' Statements

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John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to elaborate further on some of points made by my honourable colleague from Inuvik regarding the N.W.T. Workers' Compensation Board. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that I have commented on this troubled and inefficient agency on several occasions in the past. It has now come to the point where the situation is becoming ridiculous.

The Workers' Compensation Board is a monolithic adversarial board which, in my opinion, in the current terms, is out of control. The 12 per cent average increase in employers assessments, which it announced a short time ago, is totally unacceptable. In fact, it would take a special type of being short sighted to even contemplate a decision that would so terribly tax the private sector businesses throughout the Northwest Territories.

Notwithstanding the hours of time and effort that were devoted by Members of this House to a public review undertaken by the Standing Committee on Agencies, Boards and Commissions, there apparently has been no improvement. Like my honourable colleague from Inuvik, I am concerned that a badly needed legislative review, which was recommended by the standing committee will not be finished by December 31, 1992.

Mr. Speaker, it is time for the Minister to show a sense of leadership that has been sorely lacking to date on this issue. He must assume responsibility for assuring that there is an appropriate second opinion on the actuarial analysis of the employers assessments in time to implement rates which are not as punishing as the ones the board has tried to push on to northern businesses at this time. He must act immediately on the legislative review process recognizing that a legislative action paper is expected as a matter of confidence by December 31, 1992. He must implement standing committee recommendations which call for him to take a more active role and ensuring board accountability and to establish a stronger regional presence and he must give strong consideration to whether all current members of the board are committed to seeing that W.C.B. change and evolve to better serve all northern workers.

I am sure that I will have more to say during question period later today, thank you.

---Applause

Legislative Review Of The W.c.b.
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Item 3, Members' Statements. Mr. Nerysoo.

Trap Replacement Program
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a very important concern regarding the Trap Replacement Program. Mr. Speaker, I have been informed that there is a serious miscalculation in the matter of the number of trappers. As a result of this miscalculation, the Trap Replacement Program cannot continue. In other words we have run out of traps for the trappers of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to say to this House that this is causing many trappers not to participate in their economic livelihood, especially during the most crucial time of the year which will bring the best results to trappers. Mr. Speaker, the economic circumstances have caused problems for many more trappers, in fact there are no jobs for which many qualify. Mr. Speaker, in the Mackenzie Delta the oil and gas industry has literally left. The economic recession is affecting every region, where there are very few jobs available in any industry.

Mr. Speaker, the trappers who have requested traps for replacement must now wait. This waiting period is during the most important crucial period for trappers across the Northwest Territories. I cannot understand, Mr. Speaker, how this miscalculation took place. Worse yet, I cannot understand how trappers cannot, at this particular juncture, access other trapping mechanisms. Mr. Speaker, I want to recommend to the Minister and to this House that we consider using the conibear 1-10 traps as a replacement trap.

On another matter, we should seriously consider a compensation program for trappers who are not trapping as a result of a serious miscalculation on the part of this government and the Department of Renewable Resources. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Trap Replacement Program
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Item 3, Members' Statements. Mr. Lewis.

Strike At Giant/royal Oak Mine
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is now exactly six months since the strike at Giant/Royal Oak began. Mr. Speaker, it makes me very sad to see the industry which made this city prosper for five decades is in danger of collapsing around us. The strike at the Royal Oak Mine is the most bitter and violent strike we have ever had in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, one of the great victories of the union movement was winning the right to collective bargaining. This is supposed to be the alternative to violence and to confrontation. It is supposed to be the civilized way to do business. In this case, Mr. Speaker, the two parties have clearly failed to bridge their differences and it is not my place, or any other M.L.A.s place to attribute blame. We have been told it is not appropriate for M.L.A.s to become involved in industrial disputes. When we did become involved this summer we were told quite bluntly by the Minister of Labour that we were out of line, we are interfering and making it more difficult for an agreement to be struck since the parties to the dispute would expect us to do their work for them, or at least to take sides.

What is appropriate though, Mr. Speaker, is for M.L.A.s to express the concern of their constituents. People in Yellowknife, Mr. Speaker, are outraged at the level of violence that they see taking place around them. Weekends in a frontier mining town often in the past saw brawls on a Saturday night, Mr. Speaker, but friends were always around to intervene and differences were quickly patched up. The violence we see today, Mr. Speaker, is of a different magnitude. It is as a result of hatred and desperation. Citizens are beginning to live their lives differently as a result of what they see going on around them. They have gone into their shells, they do not socialize, they do not go out so much.

The city was quiet this weekend but, below the surface, there is a deep disquiet. People are disgusted that no one seems capable of bringing the vicious dispute to an end. Outside the parties to this dispute, Mr. Speaker, only one man, Hon. Marcel Danis, the Minister of Labour, has the power to resolve the crisis.

I worry about the future of the mining industry, Mr. Speaker, the future of collective bargaining in the Northwest Territories and the future of this city.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the vast majority of constituents in this city have spoken in a way that reflects the public concern. Thank you.

---Applause

Strike At Giant/royal Oak Mine
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Item 3, Members' Statements. Mr. Gargan.

Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to comment on the government's position which believes compromise as public accountability and our commitment to open government.

On February 25, 1992, my honourable colleague from Kitikmeot asked some important written questions from the Minister of Justice. He requested a list showing the participants and dates of all training initiatives undertaken by Judges of the Territorial Court. The response received from the Hon. Dennis Patterson was not satisfactory. The former Minister stated that, "training is something with which the judiciary administers by itself."

On September 30, 1992, I rose this issue myself with the current Minister of Justice, the Hon. Stephen Kakfwi. At that time, the Minister stated that all we do is provide monies for them to run a justice system. I think we provide an amount of money for them to take training and those things they deem, for themselves, necessary to carry out their judicial duties.

Mr. Speaker, I fully understand the principle that the judiciary must be independent from the Legislative Assembly, at least in terms of its ability to make judgements on matters of law.

What we are talking about here, Mr. Speaker, is not the same thing. We are talking about an expenditure of public money and I believe that the public has a right to know how all its money is being used by government and that includes knowing where, and what amounts, the Department of Justice has spent on training activities for each of the judges.

I can neither understand, nor agree with the prevailing position in the Department of Justice that expenditures in this area must be kept secret from the Legislative Assembly and the public.

I want to state clearly that I have no evidence, at the present time, that these training funds are being abused by the judges but I think it is an important principle that information about expenditure made in this area should be available for review in order to assure accountability.

I want to give you notice today that, unless this House is provided with a list showing how previous year's training dollars have been spent, I will oppose further appropriation for judges to attain...

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Mr. Gargan, your allotted time has elapsed. Mr. Gargan.

Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue.

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

The honourable Member is seeking unanimous consent. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Please proceed, Mr. Gargan.

Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker and honourable Members. I want to give notice today that, unless this House is provided with a list showing how previous year's training dollars have been spent, I will oppose further appropriation for judges to attend workshops, courses or training institutes when we deal with the 1993-94 budget in February. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Item 3, Members' Statements. Mr. Bernhardt.

Ernie Bernhardt Kitikmeot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Education is an issue of great importance to all the people of the Northwest Territories. Certainly, this Legislative Assembly has stated, on many occasions, that the goal of improving our education system and getting more of our young people through the system with a good education is one of our top priorities.

Mr. Speaker, I am a strong proponent of this goal. I believe that only by increasing the education level of our people and providing people with job skills needed in today's world can we begin to ease some of the severe economic and social problems that presently exist in the Northwest Territories.

My statement today concerns the current policy of this government to put grade extensions in most communities across the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot support this policy at this time. While, on the surface, it seems to have many benefits, I believe it ignores some of the more basic problems with the current system. In my opinion, the extension of grades simply adds to an already flawed education system that presently exists in many of our smaller communities.

By following a policy of extending classes into smaller communities, we are stretching our already limited resources too thin. I am concerned that we simply cannot maintain a consistent quality of education for all of our students. For example, can we provide high school students in Coppermine with the same level of facilities and the same range of course selection that some students already have? I doubt it.

It is my belief that we should be focusing all of our money and resources on kindergarten to Grade 9 and improving the school system that is already in place in many of our communities. In addition, we should have regional high schools that can provide our students with the type of facilities and services that we have access to in the highest quality of education. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Item 3, Members' Statements. Ms. Mike.

Government Treatment Of Regional Councils
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Rebecca Mike Baffin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am rapidly losing confidence in this government's approach to dealing with the regional associations and committees that have served our communities so well for many years. There seems to be a headlong rush to implement an untried process of community transfer and to experiment with models of district government that, at the present time, attract the interest of only one or two areas of the north. In the process, the regional and tribal councils comprised of local elected representatives are being ignored.

I was particularly concerned to learn today that the Baffin Regional Council is again experiencing severe financial difficulties, not as a result of current management decisions, but because of long standing issues from previous years' funding arrangements with this government.

I am concerned that the departmental officials are not supplying their Ministers with accurate and timely information about financial matters related to B.R.C. and I am dismayed that even the Baffin Regional Director appears to be powerless in the face of this government's apparent decision to allow our regional council to fall away.

The underlying model is clear. The Beatty Report deliberately overlooks the significant role for our existing regional council and advocates eliminating consolidation and downsizing boards and agencies that allow our people to have input into government decision making. We should not lose sight of the fact that the so-called "Strength at Two Levels" report has never been endorsed by this House and I wish you to know, Mr. Speaker, that I will oppose the implementation of any model of relation between communities and the G.N.W.T. that undermines the legitimate role of our regional councils.

I believe that this concern not only applies to the Baffin Region, but to this government...(inaudible)... represented in this House today. Thank you.

Government Treatment Of Regional Councils
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Item 3, Members' Statements. Mr. Arngna'naaq.

Ben Hannak And Jason Curley From Arviat
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Silas Arngna'naaq Kivallivik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On a lighter note, until we get to discussion period, I would like to speak about two boys who are here with us for the rest of this week. They are Ben Hannak and Jason Curley, who are beside the Sergeant-at-Arms. These boys are both from the grade 12 classes of Qitiqliq school in Arviat. Jason, who is the president of the students council and Ben, who is president of the sports council. Both gentlemen were in Yellowknife last year to participate in the territorial debate workshops. Both are student participants/observers on the Arviat Hamlet Council. In other words, they both have an interest in serving their community in

a leadership capacity. Both have been active volunteers with the Minor Hockey Association for Sivullinut, the elders group in Arviat, and for Sapuniaqtiit, the alcohol and drug prevention program.

Ben also serves on the Youth Justice Committee and last summer he was chosen from the Keewatin to take the Department of Personnel's Human Resource Management Training Program here in Yellowknife. He has participated in leadership conferences both in Fort Smith and in Brandon, Manitoba at the annual Canadian leadership conference. Ben also participated in an environmental exchange which took him to Vancouver, B.C. in September. He has not decided on his career plans as yet, he is considering several possibilities for a post-secondary education.

Jason has also had a taste of Vancouver when he represented the N.W.T. at the Canada-wide science fair with his project on the insulating factors of igloos and at the environmental exchange in September. Last summer, Jason attended a D.P.W. course on architecture and engineering in Yellowknife. He is pursuing a career in engineering and would like to return to U.B.C. next year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ben Hannak And Jason Curley From Arviat
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Michael Ballantyne

Item 3, Members' Statements. Mr. Pudlat.