This is page numbers 25 - 51 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 7th 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 communities.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, 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, Mr. Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 25

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Good afternoon. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Keewatin Central, Mr. Todd.

Minister's Statement 6-12(7): WCB Corporate Plan 1995-97
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 25

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, later today, I will table the corporate plan of the Northwest Territories Workers' Compensation Board for 1995-97. I have approved this plan as required by the Financial Administration Act.

I think it is appropriate, at this time, to commend the efforts of the staff and the board of the WCB, and to congratulate them on what I consider to be effective and realistic initiatives.

The past year has seen the implementation of several initiatives.

On the recommendation of this Legislative Assembly, the WCB has worked with the Department of Renewable Resources to amend the Workers' Compensation Act to establish an appropriate benefit level for hunters, trappers and fishermen.

I am pleased to say that a memorandum of understanding has been reached, allowing easier access to harvesters' benefits. An information package describing these changes has been distributed and is available in both English and Inuktitut.

The WCB has strived, during the last 12 months, to streamline the appeals tribunal process. Formal rules of practice will soon be finalized and made available to claimants. I am happy to announce, Madam Speaker, that of the 32 appeals filed in 1993, all were addressed by October 31st, as were an additional backlog of 28 cases.

This achievement represents a significant time commitment on behalf of the chairman of the tribunal, Mr. Don McNenly, and the appeals tribunal Commissioners who are part-time members.

The board of directors has recently approved a comprehensive communications strategy that will ensure that more timely and accurate information is being provided to the stakeholders.

Service standards and communications guidelines have been established or enhanced to improve client service.

An affirmative action plan and recruitment strategy have been developed to more accurately reflect our northern population and demographics.

Several important projects are still ongoing, Madam Speaker. The safety incentive and rate reduction program has been approved for implementation in 1996. This program is designed to collect additional assessments from employers with poor safety records, while offsetting rates for others. More importantly, safety advisors will work with employers to provide safety education and, hopefully, reduce the number and severity of accidents through the workplace.

In the claims area, an early intervention model has been developed. This initiative focuses on the early and accurate diagnosis of a worker's injury and the development of a realistic return to work plan. The end result will be a safe and timely return of injured workers to the workplace.

A multi-industry classification has been created in response to employer concerns, and the number of industry subclasses has been reduced. These changes will take effect January 1, 1995, so implementation is already under way.

A review of policies and procedures has begun to address issues raised during the public consultation process, Madam Speaker.

Finally, as Members are aware, the WCB has recovered from a deficit position and is taking the necessary steps to remain fully funded.

Madam Speaker, the WCB is very aware of the need to be progressive and is looking ahead with two new initiatives. The first involves an evaluation of program delivery in the eastern Arctic. The second is a needs assessment based on the expected growth in the non-renewable resource sector.

Madam Speaker, I would encourage all Members to take the time to read the document I will be tabling later this afternoon. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 6-12(7): WCB Corporate Plan 1995-97
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 25

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Keewatin Central, Mr. Todd.

Minister's Statement 7-12(7): Arctic A Airport Transfer
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 25

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity to provide the Members of this House

with a brief update on the status of negotiations for the transfer of the Arctic A airport program from the federal government.

The Department of Transportation initiated discussions for the transfer of this program in July of 1993. Since that time, department staff, with assistance from several other departments of the government, have completed inspections of all the site facilities; reviewed federal work records and budget plans; consulted with Members of this House, aboriginal leaders, community councils and air carrier representatives; and, developed organization structures, budget plans, policy proposals and negotiating positions.

The negotiations have not been without their share of problems. I had hoped to be able to confirm with Members that the transfer would proceed on April 1, 1995, as originally planned. Unfortunately, there are still several issues to be resolved and we are working as quickly as possible towards that end. I am optimistic that we will shortly reach an agreement to implement this transfer on July 1, 1995.

In recent weeks, many Members have indicated to me their support for the proposed transfer. The honourable Member for Kitikmeot rightly pointed out last week that the successful negotiation of this transfer will protect the financial resources that are required to continue to fund airport services at their current level, particularly at a time when the federal government is implementing major budget reductions.

Other Members have recognized that the transfer will provide a stronger operating base of technical skills and human resources that can be applied throughout the entire territorial system of airports, including the 42 B, C and D airports that we currently operate. Further benefits will accrue through the application of our northern employment, contracting and purchasing policies to this program and by linking their operation more closely to the communities that they serve.

While recognizing these benefits, we are continuing to take a cautious approach to the negotiations. We must be satisfied that the financial arrangements and the other terms and conditions of the agreement are acceptable and will allow the department to operate these nine airports as successfully as we have operated the other 42.

In conclusion, Madam Speaker, we remain committed to the negotiation of this agreement. I am confident that over the next few weeks, we will have satisfactorily resolved the last few issues and will be able to turn our attention to the process of implementation. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 7-12(7): Arctic A Airport Transfer
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 26

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

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

Minister's Statement 8-12(7): Teacher Education Program Video Wins Award
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 26

Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, as this Assembly is aware, my department, with the support of Cabinet, has developed a strategy to reach its goals of having aboriginal people make up half of the teaching force in the NWT by the year 2000. Community-based teacher education programs are an important aspect of the strategy, because they make teacher training accessible to people who are not able to leave their communities to attend campus-based programs.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment has commissioned a video to document and celebrate the achievements of two of these community-based programs, one in Rae-Edzo and the other in the Keewatin region. This video, entitled "Who Will Build the Future?" was produced by Inuit Communication Systems Limited. Madam Speaker, I am pleased to announce today that this video has won an honourable mention at the recent 42nd annual Columbus International Film and Video Festival in Worthington, Ohio.

---Applause

Competition at the Columbus festival is intense. This award places our video in the company of such programs as The Nature of Things, National Geographic and Nova, which have much higher budgets and resources. This demonstrates very clearly that northern producers can compete with the best in the world.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of Inuit Communications Systems Limited for their excellent work on the video. I would also like to congratulate the many partners who have contributed to the success of community teacher education programs, including Arctic College, the boards and divisional boards of education and the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 8-12(7): Teacher Education Program Video Wins Award
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 26

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Gargan.

Development Of New Liquor Legislation
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 26

Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, national addiction awareness week is celebrated once a year across the country. However, I sometimes worry that people may be getting mixed messages, the message to celebrate national addiction awareness week. Some people, Madam Speaker, are doing just that.

On Sunday, I was proud to be a participant in the sobriety walk in Fort Providence. Many members of the community participated in the walk. I was pleasantly surprised to see not only those people who have committed their lives to sobriety, but also those who are just beginning their struggle to overcome an addiction. I applaud the people who participated.

As we recognize national addiction awareness week, it becomes very important to note that the Northwest Territories is in the midst of developing new liquor legislation which will be based on the legislative action paper that the Minister tabled in the House just yesterday. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Minister for the thorough consultation with the communities this department and, in particular, Mr. Allan Downe who is the senior advisor of social projects, has done in the development of this important piece of legislation.

The consultation with the communities was not smooth and some controversy over the issues of alcohol has surfaced, such as the issue of serving alcohol to pregnant women. However, it is through public input that the Northwest Territories will arrive at legislation that reflects the needs of northerners.

Madam Speaker, I can only hope that the new liquor laws will be designed to reflect the lives of the people of the north and not be designed for the institution that serves alcohol. I would suggest that one way the legislation can best serve the people of the north and, in particular, those people who have an addiction to alcohol, would be to develop an individual liquor licence, like a drivers license, that would be issued by the tribunal to those people who qualify. I am aware that this may be an individual rights issue; however, in some instances, I believe the public interest should outweigh the rights of the individual.

Alcohol, drugs and other types of addiction are not just an individual's problem. These addictions affect the well-being of the children, families and communities. When we consider the development of the new legislation, we must ensure that it protects the community from the effect of these addictions.

Madam Speaker, I would like to get unanimous consent to complete my Member's statement.

Development Of New Liquor Legislation
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 27

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. Gargan.

Development Of New Liquor Legislation
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 27

Samuel Gargan Deh Cho

Thank you, Madam Speaker and honourable Members. When we consider the development of the new legislation, we must ensure that we attempt to protect the community from the effect of these addictions. If that should mean restricting the hours by which operators may serve alcohol in the community, then the option to restrict these hours should be reflected in the legislation.

This may mean that the new legislation may have to include substantial increases to the authority of the community to make more decisions on how liquor should be distributed, when it should be distributed and to whom it may be distributed.

As well, Madam Speaker, the legislation must reflect the need of the Northwest Territories as a whole. One suggestion I have is that the Lord's Day, Sunday, be respected and free from the consumption and distribution of alcohol. I believe this should be expressly stated in the new legislation. One day per week free from alcohol and the damage that it produces can only help communities towards dealing with the effects of alcohol addiction.

Madam Speaker, the information on alcohol and drug addiction programs and services that we provide to the people of the north may not be enough. Awareness programs that are aimed at children will only have an impact if they have adult role models to emulate.

It is our responsibility as Members of the Legislative Assembly, as legislators, to assist and protect the public we serve. I strongly urge their support and input into the new liquor legislation and the legislative action paper that has been tabled, to help in ensuring more healthy and fit northern communities, as well as a stronger and more able future.

In conclusion, Madam Speaker, I would, once again, like to commend the Minister, the Honourable Richard Nerysoo, who has proven the efforts his departments have taken to obtain public contribution in not only the development of the new liquor legislation, but also in providing the legislative action paper on the heritage resources and a discussion paper on the new Education Act for public input.

Through his actions, he has proven that the public of the north does have a voice that is heard in this House. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

---Applause

Development Of New Liquor Legislation
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 27

The Speaker Jeannie Marie-Jewell

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Frame Lake, Mr. Dent.

Zero Tolerance For Violence
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 27

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Ordinary Members' Caucus, I rise today to speak on the issue of violence. Madam Speaker, recently the Members of this House adopted a declaration of zero tolerance for violence. This was seen as a good first step; a symbolic statement of our commitment to ending the violence which exists in our communities.

The government has responded to this declaration with the development of a strategy of zero tolerance for violence. During the last session of this Assembly, the Minister of Justice tabled an interim report on this strategy. The Members were pleased with the words in this document. However, Madam Speaker, all we have so far are words. Nice words, encouraging words, but still only words. We need to turn these words into action.

As an example, this morning Mr. Ballantyne and myself met with the coordinators for the four victims' services programs operating in the Northwest Territories. In spite of the Minister of Justice statement in this House on October 18th that funds had been increased to these groups in the past few years, these coordinators told us that none of their programs had seen any increase in GNWT contributions.

In addition, these programs have only received part of the funding they got last year, at least so far this year. In October, the Minister also said he would ensure funding for these programs to complete the year. However, this has not been communicated to the programs. The Rankin project is already in the red and there is no indication of if or when more funds are coming.

Madam Speaker, most of the coordinators rely heavily on volunteers. In Yellowknife, over 3,000 hours have been donated by local volunteers. But without core funding, these volunteers won't have the structures needed to get the work done. Madam Speaker, it is said that actions speak louder than words.

Zero Tolerance For Violence
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 28

An Hon. Member

Hear, hear.