This is page numbers 241 - 272 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 chairman.

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. Morin, 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 241

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. Good afternoon. Orders of the day. Ministers' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 37-13(7): Preparing Northerners For Work
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to highlight the proposed continuation of two very important programs that were mentioned in the Budget Address on Monday. Both of these programs help northerners gain the skills and work experience they need to be successful in the workforce.

One million dollars of the proposed funds will be used to extend the very successful Working Together program. This program is aimed at the more than 1,000 NWT students in post-secondary education and young people who are unemployed. Working Together dollars subsidize wages paid by employers in both the private and non-profit sectors. Over the past two years, more than 900 young people in the Western NWT have found employment in positions subsidized by the program.

Working Together has been a good partnership between government and the private sector. The jobs created under this program allow young people to get relevant experience that will help them when they are ready to look for permanent work. Mr. Speaker, it is proposed that the one-year community-based Skills for Work program will also receive $1 million. This program is based on the Investing in People program that ended on March 31 this year.

The Skills for Work program is intended to help northerners gain the skills to take advantage of the many job opportunities that we have. The proposed money will be used for pre-employment programs and will be managed through the department's regional offices. As well, support will be given to adult basic education, skills development and community job training that will be managed by Aurora College. The programs offered will be based on identified community education and training needs.

One component of the Skills for Work program worth special mention is the enhancement of training opportunities for special needs assistants. The need for more of this type of training was identified by the ministerial forum and during other work on the department's strategic plan. I am pleased that we may have some additional funding to put into this area of need.

The infrastructure to support these programs is already in place, so we hope to implement them very quickly. If the House approves the funding, the Working Together program will be available to employers by the end of the month. The Skills for Work program will be up and running in the near future as well.

Both of these programs are investments in our future and in our youth, Mr. Speaker. They are both important parts of our commitment as a government to ensure that northerners are ready and able to take advantage of the employment opportunities around them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 37-13(7): Preparing Northerners For Work
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 241

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 38-13(7): Recruitment And Retention Strategy
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 241

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to update the Members of this House on the GNWT's ongoing efforts to recruit and retain health and social service professionals in the NWT. Mr. Speaker, we are all aware of the challenges we face with respect to the recruitment and retention of health and social service professionals in the north. This problem is particularly true with respect to nurses, who make up almost 85 percent of the health care workers in our health and social services system.

The NWT has unique needs when it comes to nursing professionals. Nurses are the first point of contact with the health and social services system for many northerners. Northern nurses must have specialized training and skills to provide the wider range of services expected of them. Nurses with the kind of training and experience we need are also being actively recruited by other Canadian jurisdictions. In other words Mr. Speaker, we are competing for a specialized pool of nurses who are in more demand than ever before.

Mr. Speaker, turnover and vacancy rates for nurses in the NWT are increasing, particularly in smaller communities. In the long term, high turnover and vacancy rates may result in decreased quality of care, increased workload for remaining staff and increased medical travel costs. We need a stable workforce to ensure that the quality of health care in the NWT is maintained. Mr. Speaker, this government recognizes that it must take action to protect the high quality of health care now provided to residents of the NWT. In Monday's budget speech, the Minister of Finance, the Honourable Charles Dent, announced it is proposed over the next two years, that an additional $3 million will be allocated to the recruitment and retention of nurses in the NWT. Incentives created with this funding will help us attract and retain nurses in the NWT. We will also use this funding to encourage more northerners to enter the nursing profession.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 38-13(7): Recruitment And Retention Strategy
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Ministers' statements. Mr. Steen.

Minister's Statement 39-13(7): Tuktoyaktuk Hamlet Council Invitation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 242

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, I wish to take this opportunity to thank the people of Tuktoyaktuk, the hamlet council and the recreation committee for inviting me to take part in the opening of the 1999 Beluga Jamboree on Friday April 9, 1999. It was an honour for me to take part in this event which was well attended by people from Inuvik and Alkavik as well. As Minister, I also had occasion to meet with the Mayor and Hamlet Council on a serious issue pertaining to the hamlets' main fresh water source.

I wish to assure the people and hamlet council that the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs officials will be working closely with them to resolve this concern to the satisfaction of the council and the department as quickly as possible. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 39-13(7): Tuktoyaktuk Hamlet Council Invitation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statement. Mr. Krutko.

Member's Statement 107-13(7): GNWT Support For Small Business
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 242

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my statement today is regarding the support of this government, especially in the Inuvik region and small communities and entrepreneurs in the communities who have made an investment to establish their businesses and also operate those businesses in those communities. Mr. Speaker, there is a high cost associated with running any business especially in a small community where you do not have a guaranteed economic base.

Mr. Speaker, I will use as an example, Storr & Sons of Aklavik, which is a family-owned business and was owned and operated by the late Buck Storr and now run by his son, Richard Storr. They have been in business for a number of years. They have served the community by small gravel hauls from Willow River in the Richardson Mountains, and have had the contract to maintain snow removal in regard to the winter road between Inuvik and Aklavik. Yet, Mr. Speaker, they find it harder and harder to get jobs and some opportunities for assurance that they can continue to operate and maintain their businesses in Aklavik, which they have to pay for the equipment that they purchase to ensure that they have equipment located in Aklavik, they have to have a building to house the equipment in Aklavik and they also have to be able to have some assurances for their employees that they will have work, to have a steady workforce in Aklavik. Yet, Mr. Speaker, it is very difficult for them to continue to maintain and operate this family business because of the question about competition from the larger centres, especially in Inuvik and also from outside the region.

Mr. Speaker, we have policies in place which are suppose to protect groups such as these small communities, but interpreting these policies they are more structured to regional projects than to community specific projects. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that we have to relook at the bid process and the contracting process we have in place. I have had a lot of concerns and complaints from other communities, especially in the areas of the aviation sector, who also are having problems to continue to operate their businesses because of not having some assurances that they should maintain their aircraft in small communities and keep them in small communities to supply these services I am talking about versus aviation which has been in place for a number of years in Fort Norman. These are some examples of how the Inuvik region has, we have to ensure that these policies that are in place are working to ensure that we do supply opportunities to our communities and to the individuals who have made a long-term commitment to our communities in regard to ensuring that the equipment is available, and also that jobs are available to our communities. At the appropriate time I will be asking the Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development on this particular matter. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 107-13(7): GNWT Support For Small Business
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.

Member's Statement 108-13(07): Recruitment And Retention Of Teachers
Item 3: Members' Statements

April 21st, 1999

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Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I feel, Mr. Speaker, that it is important for us to speak about reports that are issued by this government and especially when we do extensive community consultations. I feel that it is important for us as MLAs to address them and the questions in the House so that

there is public clarification on this. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I dealt with pupil/teacher ratios and resources to deliver new programs in relationship to the report on the Minister's Forum of Education.

Today I want to speak on teacher recruitment and retention. The Budget Address, which Mr. Dent announced the other day, provided for $3 million for a strategy to retain and attract health care workers. As in the health care area, we face a potential similar problem in the education field. Health has become a focal point and it is certainly needed, there is no question about that, but we must also address the education issues. Mr. Speaker, the 1990s have not been kind and good to teachers because there have been rollbacks of salaries and benefits and there are pressures to deliver more programs with fewer dollars. Like nurses, we face a similar potential shortage in teachers.

The Canadian Teachers Federation sees teacher shortages as the biggest issue facing the profession. It is not restricted to Canada. Great Britain has set up offices in various countries to recruit teachers including one in Canada. Nova Scotia graduates are being attracted to the United States, Great Britain, Asia and the Middle East. The forecasts indicate that there is going to be a very serious teacher shortage in Ontario. There is a supply and demand gap coming. Teachers are retiring, the forecast indicates 25 percent in four years and 50 percent in the next eight years. These are very serious implications for us here in the north, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to later, during question period, address some questions to the Minister about teacher retention and attraction. Thank you.

Member's Statement 108-13(07): Recruitment And Retention Of Teachers
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Member's Statement 109-13(07): Long Services Awards To Hay River Teachers
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Ootes has spoken in his Member's statement today about the serious issue of turnover rates in the ranks of northern educators. With increased pressures and diminishing resources for teachers to cope with, it may become rare in the future to see the kind of recognition which took place in Hay River last week.

A number of teachers and public servants were honoured at the 1998 Long Service Awards. I would like to make special mention of some of the teachers. A number received awards for five, ten and 15 years of service. Of course, this is an accomplishment and we appreciate all of our teachers in Hay River and the fact that solid, stable role models are still choosing education as a career. Mr. Speaker, I want to name the 20-year recipients: Robert White, Jennifer Turvey, Linda Hobson, Gladys Norwegian, Marilyn Carroll, Carol Grimm.

Support staff also play an integral role in the life of our schools so, it is important that we take note of the 20-year service awards that were presented to: Linda Atwell, Jun Lau-a, and also especially, Mabel Wright for 30 years of service. Mr. Speaker, if you think that eight staff members with 20 years service in a small community like Hay River is remarkable, let me tell you about Patricia Burnstad and Janet Fahl both receiving 25-year service awards.

Now we come to two of the institutions of education in Hay River; Mr. Peter Osted, and Mr. Romeo Gonzales, who were recognized for 30 years of service.

I have stated in this House before that Hay River has been extremely fortunate and when you add the combined years of teaching, the average number of years must be as high, if not higher, than most communities anywhere in Canada, let alone the Northwest Territories.

When we look at statistics in turnover rates in other communities, the national shortage rates, the increasing rate of burnout, combined with the recruitment efforts of the United States and the United Kingdom, we had better indeed take a very sober look at the resource we have in staff in northern communities like Hay River. If the pressures in the system in the north become too great, in years to come we will not be afforded the luxury of celebrating long service records such as we had last week. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 109-13(07): Long Services Awards To Hay River Teachers
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Erasmus.