This is page numbers 521 - 547 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 housing.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudluk, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Good afternoon. I would like to advise the House that I have received the following communication from the Commissioner.

"Dear Mr. Speaker: I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of Bill 21, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1994-95, during the Seventh Session of the 12th Legislative Assembly. Yours truly, Helen Maksagak, Commissioner."

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Ms. Cournoyea.

Minister's Statement 33-12(7): International Women's Day
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Mr. Speaker, today is International Women's Day. It is a day for women and men throughout the world to recognize and celebrate the contributions women have made to society.

---Applause

In the Northwest Territories, women continue to play a strong role in identifying issues and in shaping the social, economic and political directions that are being taken at the community and territorial levels.

They have been the starting point of many new initiatives in the Northwest Territories such as the zero tolerance strategy, the community wellness strategy, the fight against all forms of violence and abuse, and steps being taken to improve support systems for men and women in need.

Mr. Speaker, the role of women in the north has been that of a catalyst for change. At the same time, they continue to provide and encourage the kind of support needed to make sure family units and values remain strong in a rapid period of change and competing interests.

Northern women, whether they are involved in traditional pursuits or the wage economy, are helping to make a difference in today's world. There is still a long way to go and many challenges to be faced. But, I am confident that women in the north will continue to help make sure that all individuals have the opportunity to live a life of honour and dignity.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind Members of the special ceremony that will take place in the great hall, during the afternoon break, to celebrate International Women's Day and the launching of a new reference manual developed by the Status of Women Council. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 33-12(7): International Women's Day
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Ms. Cournoyea.

Minister's Statement 34-12(7): Prospectors' And Developers' Conference
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Nellie Cournoyea Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the biggest challenges in the Northwest Territories is finding ways to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the federal government.

With Ottawa's plans to cut $50 million out of our transfer payment next year, it is important to move very quickly to finalize a northern energy and minerals accord so that we can control the development of a more vibrant economy that will provide the revenues to support education, health care, housing and social problems for our rapidly growing population.

In addition, we have to work in partnership with industry and aboriginal organizations to develop mineral resources in a manner that puts the land to work for us to create jobs, business opportunities and revenues.

Those are some of the messages I presented during a speech to about 400 delegates attending a banquet at the annual Prospectors' and Developers' Association of Canada Conference in Toronto Monday night.

I also told the audience that northerners want to be self-sufficient and they want the respect and dignity that comes from being full and equal partners, contributing to the growth of Canada.

It was encouraging to see the industry's recognition of the north at this conference, as well as the active participation of a large contingent from the Northwest Territories that included: Energy Minister, John Todd; Nunatsiaq MP, Jack Anawak; representatives from the city of Yellowknife, town of Hay River, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated; the Dogrib Tribal Council and, of course, our own Susan Aglukark who provided the entertainment.

Representatives from the Legislative Assembly included Henry Zoe, Mike Ballantyne and Charles Dent.

Mr. Speaker, it is becoming increasingly important for the Northwest Territories to be represented at events such as this, in order for us to get our message to leading investors and developers.

Mining generates more value per capita in the Northwest Territories than any other province or territory, and the government is anxious to develop the economic potential of this sector in an environmentally sound and culturally sensitive way that will benefit all residents of the territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 34-12(7): Prospectors' And Developers' Conference
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Nerysoo.

Minister's Statement 35-12(7): Review Of Student Accommodation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise the Members of this Assembly that the reviews of student accommodation in the Baffin, Keewatin and Beaufort/Delta Divisional Boards of Education have been completed.

Copies of the reports have been sent to the divisional boards and the MLAs representing those jurisdictions. If other Members of the Assembly are interested in the reviews, I would be pleased to supply them with copies of the reports.

Mr. Speaker, Avery Cooper Consulting have done a good job concluding such a sensitive project. They have provided reasonable short and longer-term options for the future use of Grollier Hall in Inuvik, Kivalliq Hall in Rankin Inlet, and Ukiivik Residence in Iqaluit.

During the next few weeks, my staff will be working closely with the administration staff of the Baffin, Keewatin and Beaufort/Delta Divisional Boards of Education. They will review the implications of the reports, with the objective of determining acceptable interim solutions for the 1995-96 academic year. These solutions will be recommended to my office for approval. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 35-12(7): Review Of Student Accommodation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Nerysoo.

Minister's Statement 36-12(7): Early Childhood Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, I spoke about the importance of early childhood development and some of the successful programs that are available to children in the Northwest Territories. Today, I would like to bring you up to date on the early childhood programs, which play an important role in improving access to quality child care in the Northwest Territories.

Since the former child day care program was transferred to Education, Culture and Employment, my staff have been consulting closely with stakeholders to determine how to improve the quality and number of early childhood programs in the Northwest Territories, and how to improve access by supporting parents and people who operate programs. This consultation included a symposium held in the fall of 1993, which brought together more than 80 people from communities across the Northwest Territories working in the field of child care and early childhood education.

On the strength of this consultation, a number of changes were made to the early childhood program, effective September 1st of last year.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that contributions to assist with the start-up costs of early childhood programs have been enhanced to promote more openings in the communities for infants and children requiring additional support. As well, this contribution is now available to assist with the start-up of part-time and after school programs.

Contributions supporting the ongoing costs of operating early childhood programs are also enhanced. More funding is now available for programs which provide for early intervention and the development of infants and children with special needs, as well as for those which operate part-time and after school programs. The contributions are being made quarterly and in advance, based on anticipated child attendance.

Research has shown that post-secondary training in early childhood development for care providers plays an important role in providing quality services to children. Our next challenge is to increase the qualifications of early childhood workers in the Northwest Territories and to assist facilities in hiring qualified staff.

Further consultations with stakeholders will deal with these questions and with planning a comprehensive and community-based training program for child care providers, which will be available across the Northwest Territories.

Child care services play an important role in supporting parents as they prepare for and participate in the labour force. The user subsidy, available to assist parents in accessing early childhood programs, has now been expanded to include parents who are employed or training part-time and require part-time child care. This assistance is also available to parents who are not employed or involved in training, but whose children are at risk and would benefit from a program of early intervention.

The user subsidy is now based on a needs assessment which helps to ensure that families will be treated more equitably according to their needs and the cost of child care. This year, 312 families are receiving the child care user subsidy, an increase from 298 in 1993-94 and 140 in 1992-93. We anticipate approval of many more before the end of this month.

Mr. Speaker, while parents have the primary responsibility for child care, we also understand that access to child care services is essential for northerners to work or take education and training programs. The changes to the early childhood program are a step in this direction, and Education, Culture and Employment have received predominantly favourable responses to the changes since they came into effect.

The department is also collaborating with the federal government on early childhood initiatives so that Brighter Futures and the Aboriginal Headstart initiative, which will be announced April 1st, complement similar programs.

Mr. Speaker, to help mark Education Week, department staff have sent a package of information on the early childhood program to all licensed child care programs, all College East and West campuses, all community learning centres, principals of schools with grade extensions, and women's organizations. The information will also be sent to community health representatives and nursing stations. I will be distributing a similar information package to all Members of this Assembly.

Posters about the importance of parents reading to young children have been sent to all kindergarten students, as well as all licensed preschool programs.

The department staff will also continue to consult with interest groups and those directly involved in providing child day care services as the early childhood program evolves and improves so that it better meets the needs of northerners. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 36-12(7): Early Childhood Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Lewis.

International Women's Day And Appreciation Of Mrs. Lewis
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is International Women's Day. For 32 years, Mr. Speaker, my wife, Della, and I have been residents of the Northwest Territories. We were married on August 3, 1963, one month before we went to Baffin Island.

It wasn't until I married, Mr. Speaker, that I fully realized what civilization really meant. I suspected that many women belonged to a different culture, to the jock male culture that I was most familiar with. In my young bachelor days, Mr. Speaker, I never seemed to have a home, it was more like camping. My wife, Della, changed all that. Order was brought to my life and a sense of purpose. It struck me in the early years of my marriage that women were really the architects of our civilization, and it made me approach my understanding of history in a completely different way. They provide the basis for settlement and stability, they're the strongest voices in our society against injustice, abuse and intolerance.

Mr. Speaker, as we celebrate International Women's Day, all I feel I can do is talk about my personal experience living in harmony with a clever, talented, hard-working, strong woman. This month, my wife, Della, will retire after spending the past 18 years at the Abe Miller Centre. The work was demanding, the wages modest, but for so many working for non-government agencies, it has been a battle to obtain sufficient funds to keep this vital social service alive. It's a different world to the public service where you don't have to do fund raising to help cover the costs of wages and programs.

Through her, although I'm a person elected to serve, I've learned the true value of community service. She has served without complaint, without expectation of recognition or reward. In thanking her today, I thank all women who are really the true architects of our communities and our civilization.

If the government wants to do one thing to recognize women, it would be to address the obvious inadequacies in the wages many women receive for the often demanding work they take on. It's a systemic problem, Mr. Speaker, which perhaps can't be solved overnight.

I would like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement, Mr. Speaker.

International Women's Day And Appreciation Of Mrs. Lewis
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Yellowknife Centre is seeking unanimous consent. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Please proceed, Mr. Lewis.

International Women's Day And Appreciation Of Mrs. Lewis
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, colleagues, very much. Mr. Speaker, this is a systemic problem and I know that you can't solve huge problems overnight. But, we should at least make some start on this because it is very often women who end up working for all kinds of social causes, either in the private sector, in the public sector and even for non-government agencies. I know it's too late to help my wife and her colleague, Joyce Williams, who will also retire from the Abe Miller Centre this month. These are both professionally-trained people and I know that both Joyce and my wife would echo the sentiments I am giving you today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

International Women's Day And Appreciation Of Mrs. Lewis
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Lewis. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Koe.