This is page numbers 39 - 61 of the Hansard for the 13th 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 nunavut.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, Mr. Barnabas, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, Mr. Evaloarjuk, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. Morin, Honourable Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Picco, Mr. Rabesca, Honourable Floyd Roland, Honourable Manitok Thompson, 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 the constant recognition of the dignity and aspirations of those whom we serve. Amen.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 39

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Barnabas. I would like to welcome all Members back to the House. There is a lot of work to be done in the next nine days, so I will keep my opening statement short.

My comments today refer to the message read by her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, on March 8, which is Commonwealth Day.

"Music is the theme for Commonwealth Day this year. Of course, people of different generations tap their feet to quite different beats. But for all of us, young and old, music is an essential part of life; for parties and entertainment; for ceremonies and celebrations.

For music knows no difference of language, no national boundaries. And because it has become such as important part of our cultural lives, it is a universal means of communicating with each other. The variety of music indicates our diversity, its common tones and harmonies bring us together, just like the Commonwealth.

In 1999 we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth. Fifty years ago, in 1949, India became the first republic with its own head of state to be a member of the Commonwealth. That paved the way to memberships for many countries, especially from Asia and Africa, all sharing links of history, a belief in democracy, and a will to work together. Today, the Commonwealth includes over a quarter of the world's population, spanning differences in race, creed and language, but sharing the same aspirations toward a better future. This November, the leaders of the Commonwealth states will gather in South Africa for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting where they will discuss the challenges of the new millennium, as well as celebrating the Commonwealth's achievements in its life so far.

Let us then, in this anniversary year, look both backwards as well as forwards as we mark Commonwealth Day. While we continue to enjoy our favourite music, either by making it or listening to it, let us also celebrate the vigour and creativity that the next generation will bring to their music making. That is just one of the bonds that all the young people of the Commonwealth will share together on this special day. This is from the message from the Queen.

Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Todd

Minister's Statement 8-13(7): Ratification Of The Collective Agreement And Equal Pay Update
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 39

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to report success on two outstanding matters that fall under my responsibility as the Minister responsible for the Public Service Act.

The first is a matter of a collective agreement. I am pleased to report that the Government of the Northwest Territories employees who are represented by the Union of Northern Workers have voted to ratify a new collective agreement for the period of April 1, 1998, to March 31, 2000.

--Applause

Mr. Speaker, this is a very important collective agreement. On April 1, 1999, this collective agreement becomes the collective agreement both for the employees of the Government of the Northwest Territories in the west and the employees of the Government of Nunavut in the east. This collective agreement also contains a new job evaluation system and new rates of pay that we can rely on with confidence as being in full compliance with both the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Northwest Territories Fair Practices Act.

The second matter I am pleased to report success on, Mr. Speaker, is the settlement of the outstanding equal pay complaint.

Mr. Speaker, both current and former employees who may have been covered by the complaint have spoken loudly and clearly. To date, 63 percent of affected individuals have accepted their offers and withdrawn from the complaint. These accepted offers represent 69 percent of the total amount of money in all of the offers issued. By March 31, 1999, we expect that 74 percent of the offers, representing 81 percent of the total amount of money, will be accepted. These current and former employees must be commended for their foresight and willingness to resolve this matter in a fair way and move on.

Mr. Speaker, the high number of acceptances clearly shows that the Public Service Alliance of Canada, or PSAC for short, no longer represents the majority of individuals who may have been covered by the complaint that is before the Tribunal.

Mr. Speaker, these numbers should also be sufficient for the UNW Executive to realize that it must take control of this complaint from the PSAC and work with the small number of remaining employees to try to conclude a settlement for them. It would be most unfortunate if the UNW does not seek to act in this manner, as the alternative is a long, costly and uncertain litigation process. The risks in this litigation process will be high, and the potential rewards low, for the UNW and its members. The whole substance and legitimacy of the complaint and the Tribunal process are in serious question. There is a very strong legal argument for joint union liability in any finding the Tribunal or the courts might make.

Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling two background documents that provide additional information about the matters I have spoken about in this statement. One tabled document will be a status report on individual equal pay settlement agreements. The other tabled document will be a background paper on negotiating equal pay at collective bargaining. Thank you, Mr. Speaker

Minister's Statement 8-13(7): Ratification Of The Collective Agreement And Equal Pay Update
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 40

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements, Mr. Dent

Minister's Statement 9-13(7): 30th Anniversary Of Aurora College Teacher Education Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 40

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize a very significant milestone in the field of education in the Northwest Territories. Today, we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Aurora College Teacher Education Program.

In 1969 a program that began as an experiment graduated its first northern-trained teachers. That group of graduates, along with those who followed, have gone on to make significant contributions to the development of northern children and to the Northwest Territories in general. In fact, some current Members of the Legislative Assembly trace their professional education to the Teacher Education Program. Early graduates also make their contribution in senior government positions both in Nunavut and the West.

Almost 400 teachers have graduated from this program. This year, in four of our regions, the teaching staff is over 35 percent aboriginal. Other regions continue to make good progress toward having their teaching staff reflect their student population.

Over the years, TEP graduates have become instruments of change in the education system by making northern schools more relevant for their students. This year, 18 instructors at Aurora College and Nunavut Arctic College are graduates of the Teacher Education Program.

This program, which began as the dream of several respected northern educators, has made it possible to bring about a more northern system. Graduates are teaching children in their own language in many communities, and have developed northern curricula. Graduates are taking their places as school and divisional education council administrators. They are all making a difference and giving back to their communities.

Mr. Speaker, children look up to their teachers. More and more, they see community members at the front of the classroom. More northern children aspire to teaching and other professions as career choices because of these role models.

The western Teacher Education Program served the entire Northwest Territories until 1979 when the Nunavut program was first established. Both programs expanded their delivery to community-based programs in the early 1990s to make teacher training more accessible. The university partners - the University of Saskatchewan in the west and McGill in Nunavut continue to provide integrity to the credentials of each graduate.

Mr. Speaker, as we look ahead to the division of the Northwest Territories, I am confident that both colleges will continue to build on the collective experience of 30 years of teacher education. This is evident in the fact that new programs will start up in Yellowknife and the Kitikmeot in the fall of this year.

I would like to recognize the dedication of teacher education instructors, both past and present, whose contributions have not gone unnoticed. Their former students still remember them fondly for their example and their demand for excellence.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to invite all the Members to join me this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. in the Great Hall, for a reception to honour four of the original graduates from the "Class of 69" who are still involved in education in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 9-13(7): 30th Anniversary Of Aurora College Teacher Education Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 40

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements, Mr. Ng

Minister's Statement 10-13(7): Western Health And Social Services Review
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 40

Kelvin Ng Kitikmeot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, with the creation of two new territories in just a few days, many changes will take place at an accelerated pace. In both new territories we will need to position ourselves to take full advantage of the opportunities presented by the rapidly changing political landscape.

Today I am focusing my comments on the new Northwest Territories where these political changes will have significant implications for the management of the healthcare system.

Mr. Speaker, arising out of these changes will be a need to review existing service delivery structures and make adjustments as required to ensure that an affordable, sustainable health and social services system remains in place.

Under the current model of governance, there will be nine health and social services boards in the new Northwest Territories. These boards deliver health and social services to specific regions and communities. Some boards also provide services on a territorial basis. There is a need to review the size and number of boards to ensure efficiency and to reflect the size and makeup of the population while still maintaining effective community and regional governance over program delivery. There is also a need to review and evaluate the working relationship between the department and the boards.

Mr. Speaker, we must ensure that we use all available resources as efficiently as possible while continuing to provide the best care possible. The Department of Health and Social Services has recognized these needs and is developing a framework to guide the review of Health and Social Services in the new Northwest Territories. The review will respond to concerns about the health and social services system that have been raised in different parts of the territory.

Mr. Speaker, while considering clients' concerns, the review will take into consideration the larger context in which Health and Social Services board and the department work. The review will offer the opportunity to consult with northerners on the challenges they face and to hear their recommendations for achieving health and wellness for all residents. It will provide a forum for frank dialogue with our clients about their priorities and the kind of services they need.

Mr. Speaker, we see an opportunity here to structure a review that will provide input from the public, professional associations, non-government organizations, health and social service providers, boards and department staff. There will be an opportunity to build on health reform initiatives currently underway. The new Northwest Territories will be challenged to chart a course that meets the interests and needs of all its citizens and provide opportunities for them to take greater control of their future and more responsibility for their well-being.

The review will be the basis for the development of an updated strategic plan for health and wellness and will allow the territorial government to make informed decisions based on peoples' needs and on best practices. Mr. Speaker, in closing I note that there are many people who are working long and hard to ensure that people of the north receive the best possible health and social services. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the important contribution that the staff of health and social services boards across the territories make on a daily basis. This year promises historic change and new opportunities. Our challenge is to manage the change and to focus on providing stability. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 10-13(7): Western Health And Social Services Review
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 41

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements, Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 11-13(7): Climate Change
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 41

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, during the last session I indicated that I would provide a comprehensive report on the status of the proposed Strategy to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions. That report was sent to Members in January of this year. I also indicated that I would keep Members informed of progress as we work towards developing a made-in-the-north strategy.

I am pleased to announce that significant progress has been achieved during the last two months. A steering committee has been established to direct the overall development of the strategy. Members of the steering committee include deputy ministers from this government as well as representation from the federal government, aboriginal organizations and the private sector. In February, 1999, the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development hosted a workshop of climate change. Thirty-two representatives attended that workshop.

The participants supported this government's efforts to develop a northern strategy that will help Canada in its efforts to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. Mr. Speaker, it is expected that a working committee will be established this month to begin research on the subject of greenhouse gas emissions. The strategy will be completed by the fall of 1999 in order to be considered as part of the National Implementation Plan.

At the same time, the Arctic Energy Alliance is preparing an energy strategy as part of its business plan. The work by the Alliance, as well as the work coming out of the Greenhouse Gas Strategy and Canada's National Strategy Process, will provide valuable information for completion of an energy strategy for the Western Territory. A decision on the completion of a government energy strategy should await the findings of the Greenhouse Gas Strategy. I will keep Members informed of progress made on our efforts to prepare a Northwest Territories Strategy to Control Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 11-13(7): Climate Change
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 41

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 12-13(7): Minister's Forum On Education
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 41

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Earlier this year I appointed four delegates from the western Northwest Territories to be members of the Minister's Forum on Education. The Forum was instructed to visit a number of different communities to consult with people on the challenges they face, and to hear recommendations they have for the education system. In particular, the Forum has focused its efforts on early childhood education and the regular K-12 school system. These community visits also provided an opportunity for the delegates to observe programming in these areas first-hand. The Forum has recently completed its consultation on the future of education in the western Northwest Territories. The delegates have submitted their final report along with their recommendations for the continued improvement of the education system. During their travels, Mr. Speaker, the delegates were impressed with the high interest that people have in education of our youth.

Meetings with selected organizations, focus groups and the public were well-attended. Over 900 people came out to meet with the forum members during their tour of eleven communities. As well, 40 written submissions from various groups and individuals were received. The final report prepared by the Minister's Forum indicates that the members heard consistent messages in all regions of our new territory. People readily provided the delegates with their perspective on what elements of the system are working well, and which ones require attention. The most significant issues raised during the visits were concerns about class size, and how to deal with the wide range of special needs of students found in the classroom.

On the other hand, Mr. Speaker, the recent initiatives by this government and our federal partners to increase early childhood development programs is considered a success. Both parents and educators spoke of the importance of early childhood development to prepare our children for school.

The Forum also heard that improvements could be made:

- by improving methods for assessing and diagnosing learning needs at the earliest stages;

- by improving implementation of culture and language programming;

- through better support for grade extensions in small communities; and,

- by improving communication and partnerships to support education within our communities.

In their report, Mr. Speaker, Forum members say that, if we wish to support a more effective system of education for our schools, we will need more funding than is currently provided. In particular, the Forum recommends:

- more stability and long-term funding for early childhood development programs;

- better resources for high schools, especially smaller ones, to improve the quality of delivery of secondary programs in all communities;

- lowering the pupil-teacher ratio; and,

- increasing funding to support hiring special needs assistants to improve the Inclusive Schooling Model.

Mr. Speaker, these recommendations, along with other methods of research and consultation, will be the basis for the development of an updated strategic plan for the Northwest Territories. This updated plan will expand on the current strategic plan, People-Our Focus for the Future, and will reflect our fiscal situation. I am pleased with the efforts of the members of the Forum on Education. They have undertaken their work in a serious and balanced manner and have provided a report that offers practical ways to improve education in the western Northwest Territories. I look forward to working with the delegates, educators and the communities in undertaking the kind of reforms that will make sure our education system better reflects the needs and interests of the people of the western Northwest Territories. Mahsi.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 12-13(7): Minister's Forum On Education
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 42

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Arlooktoo.

Minister's Statement 13-13(7): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 42

Goo Arlooktoo Baffin South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Jim Antoine will be absent from the House today to attend a meeting of Premiers and aboriginal leaders in Regina, Saskatchewan. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 13-13(7): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 42

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mrs. Groenewegen.