This is page numbers 821 - 851 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 health.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, 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. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Good afternoon. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Todd.

Minister's Statement 58-12(7): Community Futures
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This past Friday in Ottawa, I met with the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Human Resources Development, and the Member of Parliament for Nunatsiaq, Mr. Anawak, to discuss the future of the community futures program in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Axworthy and I have agreed to begin negotiations to transfer the program to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism views community futures as a highly successful program that provides much-needed support to the still developing Northwest Territories business community. This program provides loans, business information, self-employment incentives and occasionally, equity participation.

Community futures societies operate a number of offices in the Northwest Territories. Clients typically include small businesses and unemployed individuals wanting to start a business. The program provides much-needed support for small entrepreneurs and business people involved in the traditional economy.

The transfer of the program will ensure that it will not be placed in a large federal bureaucracy based outside the Northwest Territories.

Given the success that the four community futures societies in the Northwest Territories have had in administering this program, we intend to ensure its continuation and protect the integrity of the program through this transfer from the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, I have written to the chairpersons of all community futures societies in the Northwest Territories to arrange a meeting in the near future to discuss the transfer in greater detail.

I will keep the House informed of any new developments as they occur.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 58-12(7): Community Futures
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Minister's Statement 59-12(7): Report Of The Minister's Forum On Income Support Reform
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Richard Nerysoo Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier this session, I informed the Legislative Assembly about the establishment of the Minister's forum on income support reform. This forum of seven northerners has been consulting with people across the Northwest Territories for the past several weeks to gather their opinions on how income support programs can be made more effective and reformed to reflect the priorities and concerns of NWT residents. I am pleased that I will be able to table their recommendations later this week.

Mr. Speaker, the forum heard overwhelmingly that income support programs need to be changed to give people incentives to look after their own needs so that they can regain pride and self-esteem.

Many northerners recognized the need for individual and community healing as the first step towards greater self-sufficiency. The forum recommends that changes in income support be linked to the community wellness strategy.

The forum report also tell us that people want income support programs to recognize the role of traditional activities. Hunting, trapping, sewing, carving and fishing are the cornerstones of a traditional lifestyle. Recommendations were made on how these activities could become part of income support. For instance, social assistance could be combined with harvesters' assistance.

Mr. Speaker, the forum leaders were particularly interested in how to improve the situation of young people in the Northwest Territories. Much of the advice they heard focused on how to encourage young people to develop skills to follow a traditional lifestyle and to take part in the wage economy. People said that if young people want to receive welfare they must meet certain conditions, such as staying in school, learning parenting skills, pursuing training programs or community service, working with elders or working at outpost camps in traditional pursuits.

Education and training play a key role in helping people become more self-sufficient. People said that training must relate to real jobs in communities, including traditional activities. People want to encourage the development of markets for traditional products like wild meat, fish and clothing and they want income support programs used as incentives to residents to go out on the land. People also said it was difficult for community residents to travel to large centres for training and proposed that training be provided in every community.

Mr. Speaker, many people also saw increased community control of social programs as the foundation for income support reform. Specifically, many communities want block funding so that they have the opportunity to plan programs in a strategic way that best meets the needs of the community and of individuals within that community. But the forum leaders caution that turning over control of income support programs to communities would need to be phased in, and that training would have to be provided for community resource people and for strategic planning.

People are well aware that income support reform will not happen overnight. The report recommends that communities and government negotiate pilot projects to allow communities to gain experience in managing block funding and to allow them to develop programs that reflect the community's needs and priorities.

Mr. Speaker, people across the Northwest Territories have supported the work of the forum and would like to see its work continue. Since implementing income support reform will take some time, northerners feel that the forum has an important role to play in conducting further community consultation and providing advice to this Assembly. One of the report's recommendations, therefore, is to appoint the forum as an advisory committee to the Government of the NWT to monitor and confirm the implementation plan.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased with the high quality of advice that the Members of the Minister's forum have gathered from the people of the Northwest Territories. Reforming income support programs will be challenging, but I feel that the advice we have received gives us the direction we need. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 59-12(7): Report Of The Minister's Forum On Income Support Reform
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Distribution Of Cabinet Portfolios
Item 3: Members' Statements

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John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in our Assembly, those who sit on Cabinet are chosen by all Members. However, it is up to the Premier to determine the assignment of portfolios. In doing so, the Premier has to consider a number of factors, including the interests and abilities of Cabinet Members, and fair and equitable workloads. With many challenges in Cabinet for Ministers during the life of this government, the Premier also has to consider continuity in ministerial direction to departments. Mr. Speaker, looking at all these factors, the Ordinary Members' Caucus would like to express concern about the distribution of portfolios among Cabinet Members. It is not a new concern and we have shared it with the Premier before.

We currently have two competent Cabinet Ministers with only one portfolio each. In contrast, the Premier has six portfolios out of a possible 22, Mr. Speaker. Through her portfolios, the Premier is directly responsible for over a quarter of the government's budget, more than any other Cabinet Minister. Among the Premier's six portfolios is one of the most difficult, due to the challenges of amalgamation, Mr. Speaker. Health and Social Services, with the current changes under way, needs a lot of attention and support from its Minister.

This direct involvement with departments is confusing to Members. In the view of the ordinary Members, the Premier should play a role of overseeing the government. Mr. Speaker, it is her job to look at the whole picture and deal with the Prime Minister and other Premiers on issues of concern. We question how well she can do this when she must be concerned with the day-to-day happenings of a number of departments.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to continue.

Distribution Of Cabinet Portfolios
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Natilikmiot is requesting unanimous consent. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Conclude your statement, Mr. Ningark.

Distribution Of Cabinet Portfolios
Item 3: Members' Statements

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John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. When objective decisions must be made about the allocation of skills, resources or opportunities, it must be very difficult for the Premier to detach herself from her portfolio obligations and consider the big picture.

Mr. Speaker, being a Cabinet Minister is hard work, both physically and emotionally. We need our Cabinet Ministers to share the load so they can be healthy, Mr. Speaker. We are very concerned that the Premier feels she needs to carry such a significant share of the Cabinet's work. To help us better understand this, Members will be following up with some questions to the Premier later today. Thank you.

---Applause

Distribution Of Cabinet Portfolios
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Pudluk.

Eligibility Of Municipal Employees To Run In Municipal Elections
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Ludy Pudluk High Arctic

(Translation) Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a concern expressed by some of my constituents and I'm sure it is a concern for some communities with a population under 500. There is a concern in the smaller communities, since the amendment of the Local Authorities Elections Act section 18(2)(c), whereby hamlet employees are not eligible as candidates in a local election.

Grise Fiord, with a population of 130 people, has a problem with a lack of candidates for local elections. They have had to appoint councillors more than once because the population in that community is very small. I'm sure this section is not a concern to larger populated communities, but it is a concern with the smaller communities. Will the government consider amending section 18(2)(c) of the Local Authorities Elections Act so that all communities could be satisfied with the act? Today during question period, I will be asking questions concerning this section of the act. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Eligibility Of Municipal Employees To Run In Municipal Elections
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Zoe.

Constituent Suffering From Necrotizing Fasciitis
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Henry Zoe North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, many northerners have heard about the young man from my constituency currently in an Alberta hospital fighting Necrotizing Fasciitis, better known as the flesh-eating disease. Many of us heard about the disease when there were a number of cases in England last year, then again when the leader of Le Bloc Quebecois was struck with the disease.

The disease appears to arise as a result of severe invasive strep bacterial infections, like strep throat. This common bacteria sometimes produces a toxin. The poison blocks off the blood flow by killing surrounding flesh, then the body's immune system can't reach the infection to control it.

Apparently, there are a handful of such cases each year in larger centres. Most are caught quickly and treated successfully. Medical officials in Edmonton have stated that the disease is not readily transmitted from person to person. There are suspicions that the disease occurs when there has been a trauma, such as a bruise or a cut, after or during a strain or strep infection. In fact, there is less than one in one million chance of getting the disease.

In the case of the young man currently in the hospital, the disease spread fairly rapidly. Doctors are doing all they can to stop the disease and to help him recover. Mr. Speaker, I hope all northerners will join me and the people of the North Slave in lending our support and prayers to this young man and his family in this very difficult time. Mahsi.

---Applause

Constituent Suffering From Necrotizing Fasciitis
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Zoe. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Pudlat.