This is page numbers 689 - 717 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 5th 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 community.

Topics

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 705

An Hon. Member

(Microphone turned off)

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 705

The Chair Tony Whitford

Mr. Pudluk. For the record, there is a point of order raised by Mr. Pudluk.

Point Of Order

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Ludy Pudluk High Arctic

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is a very interesting department and I think we should at least have a quorum here. Thank you.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Pudluk. A lack of a quorum has been brought to my attention. I shall sound the bells and ask people to return. Thank you. We now have a quorum. My apologies, Mr. Minister, you can continue where you left off.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you. In communities wanting to take some responsibility for adult or young

offenders and try to give some support to these people and to try to intervene at an early stage, these committees are initially set up on a volunteer basis. We recognize that, in many cases, in all communities, there is always a group of people who want to volunteer to do something. After some time and commitment to the job, we come in to provide some money to help them. These groups provide a mechanism for the community to make a statement to the courts about these offenders.

For instance, after charges are laid, before a sentencing, a committee could go to the courts and make a presentation about the individuals involved and some overtures about how they feel the court should deal with the offenders. In some cases, they ask to take responsibility for these offenders. In other cases, they intervene even before charges are laid and try to come up with some acceptable arrangement where they would take responsibility. Sometimes charges are laid and then stayed depending on the arrangements made with the RCMP and the courts.

There is intervention sometimes so that in sentencing the courts take that into account. For instance, a justice committee might offer to take custody of a young or adult offender. So, instead of being sent to the Yellowknife Correctional Centre, the offender might be placed in the custody of a youth justice committee, a community justice committee, the chief and council, or an Inuit community that is willing to accept them, and where it is acceptable to everybody involved. That is the way, in very general terms, these committees work.

I don't know if that is sufficient for the Member but, in general terms, that is how these committees operate. Mahsi.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Minister. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that description of all the responsibilities that could be undertaken by a youth justice committee. It seems to me to be a very worthwhile form of intervention on behalf of young people. What is not clear to me, though is, given the size of the population and the size of the problem we're trying to deal with here, with a population of 16,000 -- and I haven't calculated the number of young people that are potentially at risk -- and with a huge volunteer sector in the community that is actively engaged in all kinds of support for different organizations throughout the city, is there any kind of system at all so that if there was a group that was committed, they could count on some support from government?

I know this is always a problem. Every time you try to solve something, it is always the government that has to come through to provide the funds and so on, even though it's a community initiative to help their own kids. But, it is a reality that people are stretched. Most of the people I know are completely stretched in terms of the amount of time they have, because of the huge demands made on them by the different agencies within the community that don't get support from government and depend upon voluntary help. There must be some system with which you can decide on how you can allocate the very limited resources.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Mr. Minister.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

I think the Member is asking a question that is probably at the forefront of many people's minds, what can we do when we're so busy and what kind of support can the government give in that context? The community justice task can provide money for justice committees to operate. We can provide a small honorarium and a small operating budget. If there are specific community justice initiatives being suggested by groups within the city of Yellowknife, we will sit down and try to work out an arrangement for everyone.

The other question the Member raised is an important one. We are so busy, what can we do? In many of our communities, that is the question that many, many people ask. They have a job during the daytime, and they help implement claim settlements in the evenings and during the weekends. They have so many things going on that they wonder what they can do to intervene in the troubled lives of their teenagers or their relatives. It is a tough question. I would say that is the kind of question that youth justice committees and justice committees grapple with.

Are there suggestions they can make to the city of Yellowknife so they can be a positive intervener in the work that needs to be done to reach out to young people who are on the brink of getting into a life of crime and for young offenders who have already committed offences? Is there something civic leaders can do to bring them back to reality and let them know people care, that we want to help, that there are no judgement calls being made on them, and that there is a need to recognize that people deserve respect?

There are aboriginal organizations in the city and there is the business community, and I think they would be great elements to bring into the justice committee work starting up in the city. If the committees know city council would be happy to help with interventions and that the business community would be glad to work hand-in-hand with young offenders who are busting into their businesses and making off with some of their goodies, that would be good. There may be some positive elements in the thinking the Member is suggesting. Thank you.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Minister. The chair recognizes Mr. Arvaluk and then Mr. Allooloo.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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James Arvaluk Aivilik

(Translation) Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't have many questions, but I have a comment I would like to make to the Minister. On page 07-9, under law enforcement, I recognize that the Minister is doing some work on this in the communities. There are police being trained from my community here in Yellowknife under this, and we are involved in community justice and corrections too. I would like to thank the Minister for being able to work with him with regard to these areas. I would like the work to continue in my community.

When the Special Committee on Health and Social Services was in the eastern Arctic, in the Keewatin region, during a public hearing in Repulse Bay they heard that when young people have to wait a long time to be heard in court, they end up committing suicide because they get tired of waiting and are under a lot of stress. I would like the definitive objectives under law enforcement and community justice to continue in my community so that the people who are waiting to be tried and who are under a lot of stress will not commit suicide in the future. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Arvaluk. Mr. Minister.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

In one of the comments raised yesterday, Mr. Pudlat also pointed to the great length of time that people who are charged and who are being brought before the courts have to wait. We didn't specifically discuss, yesterday, the effect that has on young offenders. In many cases, when we talk about young offenders, these are people between 12 and 18. We're primarily looking at young men who are going through tremendous change, physically and emotionally, and people who often feel that nobody really understands them. The stress of having to wait for decisions to be made about their life and the way they seem to be inadvertently forgotten in the ongoing machinery of justice, is probably different for adult offenders as opposed to the youth. I think it's something for us, in the Department of Justice, to look at to see if there isn't something that could be done in recognition of that difference. So that's an excellent comment to bring up.

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Minister. I'm sorry, you wanted to say something again?

Bill 1: Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95
Item 18: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Yes, I intended to mention it in the beginning today. I received a letter today from the Alberta correction services division, from Mr. Hank O'Handley, the assistant deputy minister of the Government of Alberta. It is addressed to Ms. Nora Sanders, the assistant deputy minister of the Solicitor General Branch, Department of Justice, Government of the Northwest Territories. "Dear Ms Sanders: With regard to the external review of the young offender program, this should serve to advise that my report will not likely be completed in time for presentation during the winter session of the Legislative Assembly, by your Minister. In this regard, I understand the report must be translated into Inuktitut which will take some time. As well, we need to clarify some of our findings before our final submission is made. I trust this will not create difficulty for the department." This is signed, Mr. Hank O'Handley, the assistant deputy minister of the correction services division.

I just share that because there was a commitment and demand by this legislature to provide this during this session. I had followed the suggestion of the Member for Thebacha, in asking for the services of Mr. O'Handley, knowing that his schedule was very hectic, at best, at that time we sought him. But, he had agreed to do it. He is basically saying that his report may not be ready, so I would like to serve notice to Members. Thank you.