This is page numbers 211 - 240 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 business.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Honourable Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Rabesca, Honourable Floyd Roland, Honourable Vince Steen.

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 211

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Henry. Good afternoon. Orders of the day, item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 36-13(7): College Graduates
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 211

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, we have great opportunities in the Northwest Territories. As our economy expands, there is a growing demand for skilled employees with post-secondary education. In the public sector, there is a high demand for health care and teaching professionals. There is a broad range of needs in the private sector, particularly in the oil and gas and diamond industries. Across all sectors, we need people who are qualified in the trades, with technical and professional skills and with information technology skills.

If northerners are going to take advantage of these job opportunities, they will need to pursue post-secondary education. The good news is that many NWT residents are attending college and university programs, through Aurora College and also at universities and colleges in the south. There are currently 1,474 NWT students accessing the Student Financial Assistance Program. With their new skills, they will be ready to pursue the job possibilities available here at home.

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the graduation ceremonies at Thebacha Campus of Aurora College in Fort Smith. I had a chance to meet with the graduates who are about to enter our workforce, with the benefit of their new knowledge. In the weeks to come, more students will graduate from the campuses in Inuvik and Yellowknife. As well, many northern students will be completing their diplomas and degrees at other institutions.

Mr. Speaker, it takes hard work, long hours and perseverance to make it to graduation. I invite all Members of this House to join with me in offering congratulations to all the northern graduates and to their families who gave them support them along the way. Thank you.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 36-13(7): College Graduates
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 211

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Krutko.

Member's Statement 102-13(7): Custody Of Roberta Vaneltsi's Children
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 211

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over two years ago I made a Member's statement regarding the child custody matter involving the removal of Roberta Vaneltsi's two children from Canada. To date, it has been almost five years since the father of Roberta's children took them to the Czech Republic and refused to return the children to the Northwest Territories to their mother. The children have been away from their mother since they were eight and five years old. The oldest will be turning 13 on May 5 and the youngest is now ten years old. Mr. Speaker, their mother Roberta, has been trying vigorously to bring the children home. They have said repeatedly that they want to come home.

The Czech Republic is now party to the Hague Convention, that means that the treaty obligations to return abducted children below the age of 16 applies as of a year ago. However, Mr. Speaker, the Czech Republic only recently ratified the convention and it has been well over a year since Roberta's children were wrongly removed from her custody. After one year the court has still been unable to order the children returned, because the person restrainer filed returning documents stating that the children were settled in a new environment. The Czech Republic must participate in the return of the children unless the children refuse to return, the court considers them old enough, satisfactory emotionally, to say for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, Roberta's children have expressed a wish to return home and under the convention, that is satisfactory for them to do so. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Member's Statement 102-13(7): Custody Of Roberta Vaneltsi's Children
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 211

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Mackenzie Delta, is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. Mr. Krutko, you have unanimous consent. Please conclude your statement.

Member's Statement 102-13(7): Custody Of Roberta Vaneltsi's Children
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 211

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, Roberta Vaneltsi has been told that the convention is a private civil law mechanism to deal with the matters that are between parents and not the governments. However, if one country does not abide by the convention then the only recourse that a person has is legal action. Therefore, I call upon the government to take immediate action to support Roberta Vaneltsi in her efforts to bring her children home. First, Mr. Speaker, this government must press upon the federal government to urgently obtain intervention status when Roberta presents her case in the Czech Republic. If possible, this government should do all it can to intervene on her behalf as

well. Finally, Ms. Vaneltsi is in desperate financial need of support from this government to bring her children back to the Northwest Territories where they belong. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 102-13(7): Custody Of Roberta Vaneltsi's Children
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 212

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.

Member's Statement 103-13(7): Report Of The Minister's Forum On Education
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 212

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My comments today are on the Minister's Forum on Education and the report. Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I was very surprised that so much emphasis was placed on doing the consulting work and preparing a report and creating a forum by the former Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, but that the budget yesterday did not include and did not address the recommendations adequately with funding. It is bothersome to me that such extensive consultation has taken place, and now many of the recommendations cannot be implemented because of the lack of dollars. Of course, the current Minister, Mr. Miltenberger, I feel for him, because in many ways, he has been saddled with the problem. Now I do have to emphasize, though, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister states that 32 are non-monetary and I think we can certainly debate that because I see it a little different way.

Let me just quote from the report and what the report really says - the present strategic plan is excellent, but attaining the goal of the strategic plan is impossible with current resources. It emphasizes the need for additional human and material resources and that message was loud and clear in each of the 11 communities visited. The single most common issue raised was the current educational funding level and how it affects the education system. The lack of funding, of course, has resulted in an increase in classroom sizes, decreased support services for inclusive schooling, and limitations have been placed on optional courses once operated as part of the school program.

There has been a great deal of stress factor added in the education process which has been further compounded by the addition of new programs and no new funds. New programs, such as additional early childhood development programs, new curricula and community high school extension programs. In reading the report, Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the most important elements, of course, are those that do require funding, in other words, the other 12 recommendations. I guess I would be curious how the Minister can address those 12 that require funding. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 103-13(7): Report Of The Minister's Forum On Education
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 212

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Rabesca.

Member's Statement 104-13(7): Recognition Of Dan Marion As Commissioner Of The Nwt
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 212

James Rabesca North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this morning we witnessed the swearing in of the new Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. This is a proud moment for my region and all of our NWT residents. Over the years Mr. Marion has been there to help. If anyone needs a helping hand Mr. Marion is there. This is how Mr. Marion lives and works. He is a strong and personable man that will make the NWT proud to have him as our Commissioner.

During his speech Mr. Marion mentioned how the different groups across the Northwest Territories must now see through our differences and concentrate on building a new territory, that is truly representative of all our people. This is something that I believe in and I am sure that the rest of my colleagues are also in agreement. I hope that we as a whole Legislative Assembly can work together to achieve this goal. This goal will take time, however; we must strive to achieve this, as it is our future generations that will depend on us to make this goal a reality. In closing I would like again to congratulate Dan Marion on his appointment as Commissioner. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 104-13(7): Recognition Of Dan Marion As Commissioner Of The Nwt
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 212

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Member's Statement 105-13(7): Economic Potential In The Liard Valley
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 212

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as I stated yesterday, I had the good fortune to spend a couple of days in Fort Liard, one of the six communities in my constituency, last week. I was very impressed with the work that people at Liard are doing to take advantage of the development opportunities in their region and attempting to build a healthy and productive community. During my stay there I met with leaders and the public to discuss important economic initiatives being undertaken in the Liard River Valley. The visit also afforded me a better understanding of the challenges faced by the band, businesses and residents as they try to gain a full measure of benefits from economic opportunities in their back yard.

Mr. Speaker, the Liard River Valley is blessed with an abundance of forests and hydrocarbon resources. The people are working hard to build the businesses and skills required to meet the demands of this thriving forest industry, the oil and gas exploration industries, tourism and other economic development opportunities. I would like to take this opportunity to identify some of the successes and encourage the community to continue on and take advantage of these opportunities. Under the leadership of the Chief, Harry Deneron, and the band council, the Acho Dene Koe Band has focused on the areas of job training, employment and improving social well-being in the face of the development activities. They have Beaver Enterprises Ltd., which provides heavy equipment and camp services, Deh Cho Air charter lines, Deh Cho Helicopters and Liard Valley Fuel Centre Ltd.

Mr. Speaker, Fort Liard also has several First Nations, Metis and entrepreneurs who have developed their businesses there as well. I came away from Fort Liard with renewed optimism. The people of this small but vibrant community are meeting the challenges of development head-on and fostering businesses which will not only benefit their community, but the territory as a whole. With that, I would like to encourage and support people in Fort Liard who are facing these challenges head-on. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 105-13(7): Economic Potential In The Liard Valley
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 213

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mrs. Groenewegen.