This is page numbers 479 - 514 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 6th 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 chairman.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Antoine, Mr. Arvaluk, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Mr. Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Hon. Jeannie Marie-Jewell, Hon. Rebecca Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Mr. Ng, Mr. Ningark, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 479

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Good afternoon. I wish to inform the House that I have received the following message dated October 21, 1994 from the honourable Deputy Commissioner: "I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of Bill 18, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 4, 1993-94; Bill 19, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 1, 1994-95, during the sixth session of the 12th Legislative Assembly." Signed by Helen Maksagak, Deputy Commissioner.

---Applause

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Madam Premier.

Minister's Statement 37-12(6): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 479

Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Silas Arngna'naaq will be absent from the House today and part of tomorrow to attend the Nunavut Tunngavik economic development conference in Rankin Inlet.

Madam Speaker, I have another statement. May I proceed?

Minister's Statement 38-12(6): Implementation Of Family Law Reform
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 479

Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Madam Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to bring the Members up to date on the implementation of family law reform.

I am pleased to advise that work is proceeding on schedule. The Departments of Justice and Health and Social Services have been working on the development of new legislation, as recommended by the family law review report in September 1992 and by the Special Committee on Health and Social Services in November 1993.

The first piece of legislation, the Aboriginal Custom Adoption Recognition Act, has already been introduced and will come forward for further consideration in committee of the whole this session. Cabinet has approved three additional pieces of legislation to be prepared by the spring of 1995, so they can be tabled for consultation during the life of this Legislative Assembly.

Work has commenced on a new Family Law Act, a new Children's Law Act and a new Child Welfare Act. The child welfare legislation presents several opportunities and challenges. Communities must be given more opportunity to be involved in child welfare matters. This will have to be balanced with the responsibility to ensure that children taken into care receive the protection and care they need.

Further consultations with interested groups and individuals will occur as this act is drafted. Both Minister Kakfwi and myself will consult with Members, communities and the public as work on family law reform progresses. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 38-12(6): Implementation Of Family Law Reform
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 479

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 39-12(6): Zero Tolerance For Violence
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 479

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, later today I will be tabling a document entitled "Zero Tolerance for Violence: A Status Report." This document was prepared in fulfilment of a commitment made in the "Renewed Partnerships" document that followed the final report of the Special Committee on Health and Social Services. It is also part of the government's ongoing commitment to ensure that dealing with violence remains at the top of the list, not just of the government's priorities, but of everyone's priorities.

The reality is that many of our people are not well. Many individuals and families are caught up in a cycle of abuse and neglect that is profoundly unhealthy. The violence that takes place is as much a symptom as a cause of that unhealthiness. Violence, and our tolerance for violence and denial of its effects, will continue as long as our communities and our families remain unhealthy. A strategy to eliminate violence is essentially one which has, as its fundamental goals, the wellness of our communities.

Such a strategy, called the "community wellness strategy," is currently being developed by a broad coalition of 30 different social agencies, aboriginal and cultural organizations, women's groups, mental health services providers and government departments. The departments of Health and Social Services, Justice and Education, Culture and Employment are working closely together in this process, with the overall direction being provided by the broad coalition of 30 groups.

These groups, in spite of their diverse mandates and approaches, share a common understanding about the seriousness of the problems faced by our communities. More importantly, there is also a shared vision of the direction in which we all would like to move towards achieving health in our communities.

The community wellness strategy properly situates violence in a broad social context, rather than isolating it and trying to deal with it as a discreet problem as we have done so often and so unsuccessfully in the past. The strategy also is anchored in a community development approach. This approach is based on the belief that we must start a process that reverses the long-standing trend of removing responsibility and power from the communities. It is exactly that trend that is responsible in large measure for the extent of dysfunction that is now characterizing our communities. In addressing the issue is this way, we are getting at the heart of the matter, we are cutting away at the roots of family violence. This is the only approach that holds promise in the long term, and it is one that communities have been encouraging us to pursue for some time.

At the same time as this process of developing a strategy moves ahead, we continue to do whatever we can to improve the response of the justice system to acts of violence. This includes working together with the federal government and our provincial and territorial colleagues in designing changes to the Criminal Code which will provide the greatest possible degree of protection to victims of violence. The document looks in detail at some of the proposed amendments that have been brought forward recently.

The document also discusses other specific initiatives that are being looked at here in this jurisdiction such as a victim impact statements program; changes in our programs which will free up resources so that greater assistance can be provided to victims, and proposed amendments to the Limitation of Actions Act.

The government is also looking closely at other measures such as emergency intervention orders to protect victims of family violence, similar to what has been enacted recently in Saskatchewan; a number of housing initiatives to respond to the recommendations of the Special Committee on Health and Social Services; and, possible legislation to provide leadership from the Legislative Assembly with respect to acts of violence by political leaders.

If we look down the road at what we are hoping to achieve as a society, I think we would all agree that the goal of wellness is something we all share. Wellness, we would all agree, is not compatible with violence, particularly violence directed at our family members and loved ones. Madam Speaker, we will reach this goal by making it a common cause and working together to achieve it. The community wellness strategy process is a promising start to this process and I believe it deserves the support of all of us. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 39-12(6): Zero Tolerance For Violence
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 480

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Nerysoo.

Minister's Statement 40-12(6): Education, Culture And Employment Strategy
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 480

Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I am proud to present to the Members of this Assembly, and to the people of the Northwest Territories, the details of our new Education, Culture and Employment strategy called "People: Our Focus for the Future, A Strategy to 2010."

Communities in the north have been, and continue to be, challenged to find ways to maintain their traditions, while continuing to adopt to social, technological and political change. As well, in the territories, we are also contending with the same fiscal realities as many other jurisdictions. Choices will have to be made about how we organize, fund and deliver education, culture and employment programs and services now and in the future.

Madam Speaker, 12 years ago a strategy for education was approved by this Assembly. That strategy, "Learning: Tradition and Change," focused on three major initiatives: the implementation of aboriginal language programs, the establishment of divisional boards of education across the Northwest Territories and the establishment and development of a regional campus system for Arctic College. Madam Speaker, these goals have been accomplished and it is now time to move forward with a strategy to meet the realities of the Northwest Territories that they are now facing and will be facing into the next century.

The Strategy to 2010 represents the ideas and comments of citizens and organizations across the Northwest Territories. During the past 18 months, the department received comments from many different sources:

- elders participated in focus group session and proposed ways to enhance culture and tradition;

- educators and students provided valuable comments on the way education programs should be delivered;

- community and aboriginal organizations provided insight for great local decision-making; and,

- business and industry groups identified methods for establishing stronger links between work and education and training.

Madam Speaker, last November, I tabled Towards a Strategy to 2010: A Discussion Paper which was considered by Members in committee of the whole. The completed Strategy to 2010, which I will be tabling today, represents the outcome of a comprehensive consultation process. It incorporates the themes, issues and solutions which people in the Northwest Territories identified.

Our consultations have led us to further develop a community-based model for education, culture and employment programs which focuses on three major strategy concepts:

-First, we plan to link all phases of the learning cycle, from early childhood to adult education, into a continuum of lifelong learning activities;

-Second, we plan to enable greater community control and ownership of education, culture and employment programs through changes to the Education Act; and,

-Third, we propose to develop the concept of a community learning network which would link all community-based programs and services together through a single organization.

People have told us about the importance of being able to address their community's learning priorities through education, culture and employment programs coordinated and delivered at the community level.

The community-based model proposed in the strategy will meet many of the objectives we heard in our consultation, including:

-establishing an early childhood learning system;

-improving student achievement;

-developing a comprehensive system of post-secondary education in the Northwest Territories;

-improving support to communities for culture programs; and,

-developing a territorial system of information networks.

Madam Speaker, the completion of the Strategy to 2010 marks the beginning of a new period of planning and activity for Education, Culture and Employment in the Northwest Territories. The focus of that planning and activity over the next 15 years will be on the people and communities in the Northwest Territories. I will be making announcements over the next few months about the programs initiatives we are taking as a result of our strategic plan. I look forward to Members' comments and suggestions, and the comments of all our constituents. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 40-12(6): Education, Culture And Employment Strategy
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 481

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Yellowknife South, Mr. Whitford.

Prevention Of Oil Spills
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 481

Tony Whitford Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, in 1989 when the Legislative Assembly was sitting in Norman Wells, myself and some of my colleagues had a chance to visit the Esso refinery and the interprovincial pipeline pumping stations in Norman Wells to see how they do things. Some of us even had a chance to fly over the right-of-way to see the reclamation work that was done and the hillside stabilization program that they put in place. To say the least, Madam Speaker, I was quite impressed with the technology being used to monitor the entire pumping and pipeline system that IPL was using. I was even amazed to learn that the pressure and flow was monitored so closely that if a barrel of oil was spilled accidentally or, in some cases, deliberately in a test, this could be detected and attended to at once. The pipeline would immediately shut down if they lost pressure of even a small amount.

I believe that in the past 10 years or more since the pipeline had been instituted, there have been only a couple of minor oil spills; certainly no major ones that we're aware of. Those minor ones were quickly detected, and clean-up was taken care of almost immediately. I compliment IPL and Esso for their attention to such an important area.

Today, my colleagues and I were shocked to learn that a major, major oil spill has occurred in northern Russia, where tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil escaped before the flow was detected and stopped. And, Madam Speaker, that was only the start of this potential environmental disaster: the copper dams that were built to contain the spill were breached when heavy rains raised levels of oil and fluids behind the dam and sent the oil into the river system that has the possibility of emptying into Arctic waters.

Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue.

Prevention Of Oil Spills
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 481

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

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

Prevention Of Oil Spills
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 481

Tony Whitford Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Speaker, colleagues. The sad part of all this is that the spill is only now being brought to the world's attention. This occurred some time ago but we're only learning of it now. We, in the north, are fortunate enough to have good planning that has gone into the major part of the oil industry: oil and gas exploration, oil and gas extraction and transportation. Good planning, good work and perhaps good luck have gone into it. We have not been faced with such a disaster yet.

But, as Murphy's law predicts, if anything can go wrong, it will. I am confident, however, that Esso, IPL and this government are prepared for such an inevitable event and they are coordinated enough to foresee any subsequent or secondary conditions which could compound what would be a minor accident into something much more major. Thank you, very much.

Prevention Of Oil Spills
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 481

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Antoine.

NWT Power Corporation Proposed Rate Structure Changes
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 481

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Madam Speaker. I am very concerned, Madam Speaker, about the NWT Power Corporation's proposed rate structure changes which are presently before the Public Utilities Board.

Madam Speaker, the proposal raises several questions. It is based on the cost of service analysis completed by the corporation over the fiscal year ending March 31, 1994. This analysis looked at the true cost of providing electrical services to a community versus the actual revenue received. The Power Corporation has said it needs revenue of nearly $100 million to remain in the black.

Proposed rate zones were created according to the source of power, diesel generator or hydroelectric. Also taken into consideration for creating these rate zones was the community's geopolitical location. What this means, Madam Speaker, is that rates in some areas, such as areas served by the Taltson hydroelectric project will go down and rates in the western diesel system rate area, which includes all the communities in my constituency, will go up. As a matter of fact, Madam Speaker, the rates in the western Arctic diesel zone for domestic service will have increased by approximately 50 per cent to meet the corporation's cost and service revenue requirements.

While the corporation has indicated in their proposal that the cost of commercial services will go down, the government will now pay the same rate as other ratepayers. The corporation, in it's rate application, is shifting the onus for revenue generation to the private household ratepayer. Rates for domestic service in the communities in my constituency will go up by 20 per cent over the next two years. Of course, none of my constituents are too happy with this development. It means that people in my constituency will be paying more money for their power. Some people pay too much already.

In addition, Madam Speaker, I am not too impressed with the entire process of public hearings held by the Public Utilities Board into the proposed new rate structure. Adequate notice was not given to the residents of the NWT so that they could make informed submissions to the board. I am very disappointed that there were no hearings held in any of the regions on this important matter.

Madam Speaker, I am running out of time. I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.