This is page numbers 315 - 335 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 4th 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 chairman.

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, Mr. Barnabas, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Enuaraq, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Samuel Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Miltenberger, Honourable Don Morin, Honourable Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Picco, Mr. Rabesca, Mr. Roland, Mr. Steen, Honourable John Todd

Oh God, may your spirit and guidance be in us as we work for the benefit of all our people for peace and justice in our land and for recognition of the dignity and aspirations of those whom we serve. Amen.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 315

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Arlooktoo. Good morning. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier this year, communities in the Mackenzie Delta were surprised to hear reports that the Yukon Territorial Government was considering closing the Dempster Highway during the winter months as a cost-saving measure. The Delta communities were quick to respond, pointing out the importance of this highway link for the delivery of their fresh groceries and supplies. They also identified the volume of business that Delta residents and businesses create in the Yukon every year.

I am happy to report to the Members that the Yukon Government does not plan to close the Dempster Highway.

-- Applause

Here in Yellowknife, the Members for the Delta area, community and business representatives and I met on Wednesday, January 29th, 1997, with the Honourable David Keenan, Yukon's Minister of Community and Transportation Services. With the exception of the short periods each fall and spring, when the Mackenzie and Peel River crossings are out of service, we confirmed that maintenance on the Yukon portion of the highway will continue and traffic will continue to flow.

Yukon's government is facing the same financial problems we are. Like ourselves, budget cuts in the Yukon are a reality. Early in their budget exercise, the Dempster Highway was targeted and options evaluated. I am pleased to say that they contacted us and gave us an opportunity to contribute to their evaluation. This week's meeting shows that they gave our concerns and advice genuine consideration and the impact of the budget cuts on Delta residents has been minimized.

The cuts to the Dempster Highway's budget are best described as operational efficiencies rather than service cuts. The closing of one of the three highway maintenance camps may result in little longer response times to changing road conditions but should not affect the safe operation of the highway. The closing of the highway and redeploying of staff to other activities, during the fall and spring periods when the Mackenzie and Peel River crossings are also closed, will have only a minimal impact on the highway's use. Even this impact can be reduced by scheduling opening and closing dates, so that travel and shipping plans can be made in advance. Other changes, such as increasing dust control and eliminating snow catchments, will actually improve the service on the highway, while achieving long-term savings in operating costs.

While he was here, I expressed my appreciation to Minister Keenan for the cooperative approach his government has taken in this matter. Today, Mr. Speaker, I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of honourable Mr. Krutko, Mr. Roland and Mr. Steen, as well as the community and business representatives, who took the time to offer their advice and expertise, both to my office and directly to the Yukon government. By working together, Mr. Speaker, there will be no interruption in the Dempster Highway's vital link to the communities of the Mackenzie Delta.

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Antoine. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Henry.

Innovative Revenue Initiatives
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Seamus Henry Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the issue of revenue generation opportunities in the north came up several times recently in the House. It is important, Mr. Speaker, that we develop a strategy to gradually reduce our dependence on transfer of payments from the federal government. We have to explore innovative ways to broaden our economic base by examining new avenues to generate revenues in the north. We must strive to create new economic opportunities and jobs so that we can achieve a sustainable level of growth.

Mr. Speaker, we must be proactive and seriously examine the revenue side of our budget, to help ensure a more hopeful and promising future for our children. Promoting the north, and enhancing economic links with the south, is one viable option. Mr. Krutko has been a visionary in this regard since he combines Mickey Mouse ties with traditional attire. Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we can pursue this innovative approach in our desire to creatively explore potential revenue generators in the north. With these colourful Mickey Mouse ties displayed on the television screen, the Disney company has certainly been benefiting from this free form of advertising.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if, in the north, we can now share in the wealth, by inviting Disney to come to Yellowknife and develop a show about the north, or even take part in discussing the dress code in the House. This item has been referred to the Rules Committee, of which I am chair, so I believe we will be inviting Disney to appear before that committee. They can also promote the north's fashions in the south, but also our northern environment and lifestyle. Given Mr. Krutko's contacts with Mickey Mouse, perhaps he can link us with Walt Disney and invite them to the north. We can send a copy of Hansard, with our invitation, and also invite the national media to get maximum national coverage, here in Canada and in the US.

Mr. Speaker, we have all the amenities to accommodate events such as this and display our northern hospitality. I am sure this event will benefit many businesses in the north, including airlines, hotels and restaurants. Mr. Speaker, this may seem a mickey mouse way to generate revenue, but so what, as long as we get the revenue and the publicity. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Innovative Revenue Initiatives
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Henry. Members' statements. Mr. Krutko.

Funding For Alcohol And Drug Training Programs
Item 3: Members' Statements

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David Krutko

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My statement today is in regards to the whole question about community empowerment and, also, healing for the communities in regards to alcohol and drug programs. The government policy talks about community transfers to create opportunities in communities and more control and authority over programs for communities to empower themselves. Without trained, qualified individuals within those positions to take on those responsibilities, the communities will be lacking a very critical resource, which is the human resource, in those particular fields.

One of the fields that seems to have taken the most impact lately is the whole area of alcohol and drug programming, the Tl'oondih Healing Society, Delta House. Now, in relation to training those individuals to take on the role of helping the communities heal, we have to have adequate resources, and the people in place with the qualifications, who have received diplomas and have gone away for that training. Yet, we hear today that the Delta Cultural Institute, in relation to the training program that they have conducted into the alcohol and drug counselling program, is being cut. Yet, Mr. Speaker, the communities that I represent, have sent individuals to Hay River to take on this responsibility and assist the community in the area of healing. So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to know, what is it? Are we empowering the communities by giving the authority, or are we impairing the communities by not having trained resourceful people in those positions to take on those responsibilities?

Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time, I will be asking the Minister of Social Services a question on this matter. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Funding For Alcohol And Drug Training Programs
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 316

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Picco.

Impact Of Budget Reductions On Language Services
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Edward Picco Iqaluit

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over the past week we have discussed at some length the new budget. We have spent the first year and a half of our mandate as an Assembly trying to deal with the legacy of debt that we inherited. We have also spent time gearing up for division. With this in mind, it is unclear how replacing regional librarians in the east with support services from the west is either cost effective or logistically sound. Mr. Speaker, in less than 800 days two new territories will be formed. Is it sensible for this government to downsize, in this case, library services before division because on April 1, 1999, Nunavut will not have the regional librarian position because the whole basis of the operation will be in far off Hay River. What will we do then, Mr. Speaker? Who will provide those library and languages services? Language is an issue here, Mr. Speaker, because the regional librarian coordinates and facilitates the collection of Inuktitut materials. Following on this, Mr. Speaker, the proposed closure of the language bureau is another attack by this government on language and education. How can we justify closing the language bureau when the monetarial savings will be minimal? No, Mr. Speaker, we need this government involved with language issues. We need a presence with Dogrib, Gwich'in, North and South Slavey, Cree, Inuktitut and other aboriginal languages. It is sad, Mr. Speaker, sad that some people see the language bureaus as only a den of interpreters and translators. The language bureau is more than this, and I will be asking questions on this area, later today. Mr. Speaker, a reputation for a 1,000 years can depend on the conduct of a single moment. Let the Members of the 13th Assembly remember this, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Impact Of Budget Reductions On Language Services
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 316

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Picco. Members' statements. Mr. Erasmus.

Stanton Hospital Patient Representative
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My statement today, is in regards the service that is available through Stanton Hospital. Mr. Speaker, the other day I made a statement concerning eye glasses. My intent, Mr. Speaker, was to try to fix the problem, wherever it may be, whether it is through the prescriptions, the dispensing of the prescriptions, or if it happens to be the people who make the glasses down south, or whatever. I have tried different means of getting some action prior to that, but there was one avenue that I was not aware of, and I would like to make the public aware of that today.

When people deal with health care professionals and facilities, it can be an intimidating thing, particularly for people who do not work in offices. They may be unhappy with how they were treated, or they do not understand why some things were done. Stanton Hospital recognizes this, and they recognize that patients and families may have questions, but do not know where to find the answers or that they may have a complaint to register. To help the general public, Stanton has appointed a patient representative back around 1993 or so, and patients or their families who have questions or concerns can go to this representative. They can raise questions about the hospital itself, its various clinics, or its staff. The patient representative tries to help in a way that is easy for the patient or the family. The current representative is Heather Chang, and she can be contacted in person at the hospital or else you can call a toll free number which is 1-800-661-0896, or you can reach her by letter at Stanton Hospital. She will do what she can to try to help you. Each and every concern is followed up, and additionally a summary of concerns is given to the board and a quality management committee regularly. This is how the hospital has responded to try to listen and to improve its service. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Stanton Hospital Patient Representative
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Yellowknife North is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. You have unanimous consent, Mr. Erasmus.

Stanton Hospital Patient Representative
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I said, the hospital is trying to respond to concerns in this manner. One of the things that I would like to suggest is perhaps they could advertise this a little bit better, so that more people know about the representative and this 1-800 line and the rest of that. Perhaps they could up a sign prominently displayed at the hospital, at the eye clinic, at the health clinic and the various offices that they have, so people will know this. Mr. Speaker, I applaud the Stanton Hospital's efforts to be responsive to the needs of their patients, and if people have a concern or questions to ask, I urge them to let Stanton Hospital know through this agency, because if they do not know there is a problem, they cannot fix it. Thank you.

Stanton Hospital Patient Representative
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Erasmus. Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.

Importance Of The Mining Sector
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 317

Jake Ootes

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have often spoken on the importance of mining in the Northwest Territories, and the need for us to diversify our northern economy, and I know that Mr. Henry spoke on this a little earlier, and he has a good idea, but I think what we certainly have to concentrate on is to reduce our dependency on federal government financing. On Wednesday of this week, I attended a future focus meeting sponsored by the City of Yellowknife. They have held these meetings for the past year on various subjects such as seniors' education. This week's meeting was on mining. Mining is a $1 billion industry here in the Northwest Territories, and it employs some 1,700 people, and that makes it the largest private sector employer, and actually it is just behind the territorial government. They contribute to the creation of a lot of spinoff jobs, such as the chartered airline industry, the main airline industries, supply companies, and on and on it goes. So when we speak about 1,700 jobs, there is likely 1,700 other jobs in the Territories that are dependent upon mining.

But all is not good news on the mining front. The price of gold is dropping, and it will likely stay there for some time. What that means is that it puts some of the mines in a precarious position. Some of the mines are very old and nearing the end of their life. Polaris is another mine that might well reach the end of its life in 2001. We need to encourage mining here in the Northwest Territories and exploration, but what we need to do, and we certainly have to keep that in mind here as legislators, is that we need reform, regulatory reform.

Mining companies need a harmonization of regulations. They need a single efficient system. Land claims need to be settled quickly and fairly, so that mining groups can continue and know who to approach with respect to who owns the land. A database needs to be made accessible for geoscience information. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Importance Of The Mining Sector
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 317

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Yellowknife Centre is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. You have unanimous consent, Mr. Ootes.

Importance Of The Mining Sector
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 317

Jake Ootes

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Infrastructure needs to be built. We need roads, there are resources, a program such as existed years before, and we need to bring that to the attention of the federal government. They, after all, are the major beneficiaries of the diamond mine that is coming in through the royalty factor, so we need to pressure the federal government. We need a trained work force, and mining companies need access to land. Mining can kick start our northern economy, Mr. Speaker, and that leads to job creation, and that leads to improvement in our ill social conditions. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Importance Of The Mining Sector
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 317

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. Members' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Community Libraries
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 317

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to make some brief comments today about the concern I have about community libraries across the Northwest Territories. Mr. Speaker, community libraries are very important institutions at the community level. The community library in Fort Smith is a centre place for literacy and it also, in a community of 2,500 people has over 10,000 users a year. I am very concerned Mr. Speaker, because I have heard that the government has a review under way which would show a cut to existing budgets to community libraries

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the existing community libraries have not had their funding raised in 10 years. The community in Fort Smith cost shares the library with the territorial government. If in fact this is the case, that this study will be recommending that there will be cuts to existing libraries, it is something that I will be hard pressed to support. The intent of the government may be laudable to try to spread community libraries around, but it makes no sense to me, Mr. Speaker, to cut already underfunded institutions to create even more underfunded and under-resourced institutions. So, I would encourage the government, if they are going to pursue this initiative to in fact make it a positive initiative where they try to identify funds to build community libraries, not to cripple the existing ones to try to build more inadequate community library services. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Community Libraries
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 317

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Mr. Arlooktoo.

Return To Question 90-13(4): Housing Shortages In Clyde River
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions

Page 318

Goo Arlooktoo Baffin South

Mr. Speaker, I have a return to oral question asked by Mr. Enuaraq on January 23, regarding housing shortages in Clyde River. Mr. Speaker, I would like to address the question raised by Mr. Enuaraq about the Housing Corporation's policy on so called matchbox houses. There are approximately 300 homes left that were built under the northern (inaudible) program of the federal government back in the 1960s and early 1970s. Many of these homes have been renovated to more modern standards. There are only a dozen of the old matchbox houses left. Clyde River is the only community in the NWT which still uses the original matchboxes for rental units. The Housing Corporation, as a result of the elimination of federal funds for new public housing, has had to amend its policy about replacing all northern rentals. A recent letter to all LHO's from the Housing Corporation's president outlined the new plans. All of the northern renters are being evaluated with particular emphasis on those home which still lack basic facilities like hot and cold running water. The Housing Corporation will renovate or replace all northern rentals in poor condition. The matchbox houses will be replaced with new homes in 1997/98 and 1998/99. Thank you.

--Applause

Return To Question 90-13(4): Housing Shortages In Clyde River
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today is professional development day in Hay River at Diamond Jenness Secondary School, so I am pleased to have my son, Jeffery Groenewegen and two of his friends, Michael McBryan, and Jeremy Studney are visiting today from Hay River.

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 318

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Welcome to the Assembly. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Mr. Krutko.