This is page numbers 549 - 580 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 housing.

Topics

Written Question 25-12(6): Sexual Assault And Child Sexual Abuse
Item 7: Written Questions

Page 565

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

I will call the House back to order. Item 11, reports of standing and special committees. The honourable Member for Inuvik, Mr. Koe.

Committee Report 13-12(6): Report On The Elimination Of The Alcohol And Drug Board Of Management
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 565

Fred Koe Inuvik

Mahsi, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, today I am very pleased to present the report on the elimination of the Alcohol and Drug Board of Management, prepared by the Standing Committee on Agencies, Boards and Commissions.

Introduction

Alcohol and drug abuse is one of the most serious social problems facing northerners today. As a result, the funding of alcohol and drug programs has always been a sensitive and important issue in the debates of the Legislative Assembly.

Early in the term of the 12th Assembly, the Standing Committee on Agencies, Boards and Commissions selected the Alcohol and Drug Board of Management as one of the government agencies to be reviewed by the committee.

The standing committee considered this matter in meetings in Yellowknife from April 25 to 29, 1994. The Minister of Social Services, the Honourable Rebecca Mike, was unable to appear before the committee. She was represented by her deputy minister, Mr. Ken Lovely, who appeared before the committee on April 26th. The standing committee wishes to acknowledge the input of the deputy minister and thank him for his appearance at the public hearings.

General Observations

Over the past few years, concerns related to Alcohol and Drug Board of Management were raised regularly by Members in the House. Members were concerned that the board was not carrying out its duties and that the government as not giving the board the support necessary to do so.

The government finally eliminated the board at the end of the 1992-93 fiscal year. As a result, there is no formal mechanism available for the Department of Social Services to receive input and recommendations concerning alcohol and drug policies.

The standing committee is disappointed the government eliminated this board without having consulted the Assembly, either as a whole or through this committee. Recent government initiatives to eliminate boards -- most recently, the Denendeh Conservation Board and the Highway Transport Board -- included consultation with this committee. The elimination of the Alcohol and Drug Board of Management should not have taken place without similar consultation.

Committee Members acknowledge that the board's primary purpose, to make recommendations on the distribution of grants and contributions to alcohol and drug programs, has been taken over by the department. While that responsibility may now be elsewhere, the responsibility to provide input to the Minister and the department is one that must still be met.

Further, there was some concern that the department was too interested in numbers and statistics from the alcohol and drug workers and not in the other issues and concerns often raised by the workers. Alcohol and drug counsellors in the communities are the front-line workers in this battle and their input is critical in the development of effective policies to reduce the damage of alcohol and drug use by northerners.

As for the grants and contributions, the standing committee feels that there must be some means of monitoring the effectiveness of those grants. How effective are they in different communities? Are there some programs or communities that are more effective or efficient than others? What can be learned from those effective programs? Committee Members appreciate the department's assurances that program will be better monitored.

The department told the committee that an alcohol and drug strategy would be developed this year by the combined departments of Health and Social Services. The standing committee sees the establishment of mechanisms for input by front-line workers and for monitoring of the effectiveness of grants as an essential part of any alcohol and drug strategy.

Recommendation

The Standing Committee on Agencies, Boards and Commissions recommends that the Department of Health and Social Services complete a comprehensive alcohol and drug strategy and provide it to the committee by December 31, 1994. Further, that the strategy include mechanisms for monitoring the effectiveness of grants and contributions to alcohol and drug societies, and for gathering input from alcohol and drug workers to the department.

Finally, the standing committee agrees with the department that alcohol and drug problems are not so much a cause as they are an effect. The government has limited resources and these resources must be directed so as to have the greatest possible impact on all health and social services issues facing northerners. Directing attention at the causes of alcohol and drug abuse is an admirable goal, and we encourage the government to continue their efforts to fight the roots of the problems facing northerners through a greater emphasis on community mental health. Mahsi cho.

Committee Report 13-12(6): Report On The Elimination Of The Alcohol And Drug Board Of Management
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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Some Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

---Applause

Motion To Receive Committee Report 13-12(6) And Move To Committee Of The Whole, Carried

Committee Report 13-12(6): Report On The Elimination Of The Alcohol And Drug Board Of Management
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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Fred Koe Inuvik

Madam Speaker, that concludes the report of the Standing Committee on Agencies, Boards and Commissions. Therefore I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Lewis, that the report of the Standing Committee on Agencies, Boards and Commissions on the elimination of the Alcohol and Drug Board of Management be received by the Assembly and moved into committee of the whole. Mahsi.

Committee Report 13-12(6): Report On The Elimination Of The Alcohol And Drug Board Of Management
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 566

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Committee Report 13-12(6): Report On The Elimination Of The Alcohol And Drug Board Of Management
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 566

An Hon. Member

Question.

Committee Report 13-12(6): Report On The Elimination Of The Alcohol And Drug Board Of Management
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Motion is carried.

---Carried

Item 11, reports of standing and special committees. The honourable Member for Deh Cho, in a new dress, Mr. Gargan.

Committee Report 14-12(6): Advisory Committee On Social Housing Report On Taloyoak Meetings, September 23 - 25, 1994
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

October 27th, 1994

Page 566

Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Laughter

From September 23 to 25, 1994, the Advisory Committee on Social Housing met in Taloyoak. The purpose of this three-day meeting was to review the results of the regional and community consultations regarding the rent scale undertaken over the past few months by the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Most of the committee's time was spent on the rent scale and the public feedback on the proposed changes. As well, the committee reviewed public housing, home ownership initiatives, design of public housing, contracting policies and practices, and methods for continuing strong communication and consultation with the public.

Finally, the issues of community transfer and the housing program were discussed. At times, there was significant overlap between these topics and the rent scale discussion, highlighting for committee Members the delicate balance between all aspects of the social housing program.

To assist the committee in reviewing the results of the regional and community consultations, members were provided with extensive briefing material. This material described the proposed rent scale, summarized the information and concerns people shared at community meetings, and provided an analysis of those suggestions in a neutral, non-judgmental way.

This detailed information allowed the committee to fully understand the concerns northerners have, how these concerns can be addressed, and at what cost. Detailed information was also provided for the other topics covered.

The Rent Scale

Many issues were raised during the community and regional consultations regarding the proposed rent scale. The committee looked carefully at the results of the consultations, discussing the public input and potential options for addressing the concerns in an effective way.

As a result of the detailed review of the rent scale and the community consultations, the committee made a number of recommendations to the Minister of Housing for changes to the proposed rent scale. The recommendations were as follows:

1. Rent scale should be based on gross household income;

2. Elders'/Seniors' rents should be eliminated;

3. Incomes of family members living with elders/seniors should be assessed for rent;

4. Income from the following groups should be exempted from the social housing rental scale:

- Elders/seniors

- Disabled

- Students' training and employment allowances

- Social assistance recipients

- Workers Compensation Board (WCB) benefits

- Widows' and survivors' pensions

- Income earned traditionally by an independent

operator principally engaged in hunting, fishing or trapping for a livelihood

5. Rent scale should be phased in over four years;

6. Unit condition rent deduction should be based on a graduated scale;

7. Cost-of-living adjustment should be based on MACA's northern cost index;

8. The cost-of-living adjustment should apply to all individuals and families in all communities;

9. The income support review presently under way should be a high priority for completion and adoption;

10. The new rent scale should be implemented fairly and equitably across the NWT;

11. There should be incentives to local housing associations/authorities for energy conservation;

12. There should be additional resources to support implementation of home ownership; and,

13. The rent scale should be implemented April 1, 1995.

The Minister of Housing made a commitment to make every effort to incorporate the suggestions from the committee and community consultations into the rent scale prior to bringing it forward to the House.

Madam Speaker, I would like, at this point, to ask the honourable Member for Natilikmiot, to continue with the terms of reference.

Committee Report 14-12(6): Advisory Committee On Social Housing Report On Taloyoak Meetings, September 23 - 25, 1994
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 567

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. The honourable Member for Natilikmiot, Mr. Ningark.

Amending The Terms Of Reference

Committee Report 14-12(6): Advisory Committee On Social Housing Report On Taloyoak Meetings, September 23 - 25, 1994
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Madam Speaker. The work of the committee in Taloyoak raised the ongoing concerns of committee Members regarding weaknesses in the Advisory Committee on Social Housing's terms of reference. During the final day of meetings, the Members discussed these concerns and, as a result, developed amendments to the terms of reference to address the concerns. The amendments focus on three key areas.

Name Of The Committee Making Recommendations To The House

The committee was originally set up strictly as an advisory group. This allowed the Minister of Housing to share ideas on housing issues with ordinary Members and receive feedback which would allow the development of more effective policies and programs.

However, since the creation of the committee, the issues surrounding social housing have become more controversial. The drastic federal funding cuts and the resulting program reductions by the Housing Corporation mean that there will be times when the committee not only wishes to recommend changes to the Minister, but also wants to bring those recommendations to the Legislative Assembly. Committee Members feel they will be taking a stronger role in the future as the tough housing decisions must be made; as a result, the committee needs the authority to make recommendations to the government on housing issues, rather than just providing the Minister with advice.

To accommodate the changing role of the committee, two changes to the terms of reference are proposed: first, that the name of the committee be changed to Special Joint Committee on Housing; and second, that the committee have the authority to make reports, motions and recommendations on housing policies programs and other issues to the government through the Legislative Assembly.

Selection Of Chairman

For most committees of the Legislative Assembly, the chairman is selected by the committee from among its Members. However, under the current terms of reference for the housing committee, the Minister of Housing is automatically the chairman of the committee. While Members are satisfied with the performance of the current Minister as chairman, they would like to see a different method for selecting and removing the chairman in the future. Members recognize that, as chairman, the Minister can control the agenda and direct issues; however, he cannot talk to the issues, which is a distinct disadvantage.

Madam Speaker, to provide consistency with other Legislative Assembly committees and to give the committee flexibility in its choice, a change to the terms of reference allowing the committee to select its own chairman from its Members is proposed.

The committee will be bringing forward to the Assembly amended terms of reference for consultation and approval.

Madam Speaker, I will not be comfortable in reading the next line, so I will ask Mr. Gargan to proceed. Thank you.

Committee Report 14-12(6): Advisory Committee On Social Housing Report On Taloyoak Meetings, September 23 - 25, 1994
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 568

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. The honourable Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Gargan.

Committee Report 14-12(6): Advisory Committee On Social Housing Report On Taloyoak Meetings, September 23 - 25, 1994
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Madam Speaker. The committee would like to thank the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Natilikmiot and the people of Taloyoak for their warm hospitality.

---Applause

As well, the committee would like to thank the Minister and staff of the NWT Housing Corporation for the presentations...

---Applause

...and material provided on the review of the regional and community consultations. The completeness of the information and the open approach taken by the Minister greatly assisted the committee in its detailed consideration of the issues. Madam Speaker, that concludes the report of the Advisory Committee on Social Housing.

Motion To Receive And Adopt Committee Report 14-12(6), Carried

Therefore I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Natilikmiot, that the report of the Advisory Committee on Social Housing on its meeting in Taloyoak be received by the Assembly and adopted.

Committee Report 14-12(6): Advisory Committee On Social Housing Report On Taloyoak Meetings, September 23 - 25, 1994
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 568

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Your motion is in order. To the motion.

Committee Report 14-12(6): Advisory Committee On Social Housing Report On Taloyoak Meetings, September 23 - 25, 1994
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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An Hon. Member

Question.

Committee Report 14-12(6): Advisory Committee On Social Housing Report On Taloyoak Meetings, September 23 - 25, 1994
Item 11: Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Question is being called. All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Item 11, reports of standing and special committees. Item 12, reports of committees on the review of bills. Item 13, tabling of documents. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Frame Lake, Mr. Dent.