This is page numbers 471 - 489 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 education.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, 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

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Thank you, Mr. Schauerte. Good morning. Orders of the day. Ministers' statements. Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 55-13(7): Year 2000 Status Report
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good morning. Mr. Speaker, later today, I will table a report on progress in Government of the Northwest Territories Year 2000 Initiative.

As my honourable colleagues may be aware, the Year 2000 problem, sometimes referred to as Y2K or the millennium bug, is a potentially serious issue that can affect microprocessors in many types of equipment. Computers are the most obvious target of this bug, but other systems such as controls for buildings' mechanical systems, medical equipment or vehicles may also be affected.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has taken this problem very seriously. Work began back in 1996 to evaluate the potential impact and to develop a strategy to deal with it. Given the distributed nature of many of the Government of the Northwest Territories information technology systems, and the wide variety of other systems that may be affected, each department was asked to develop a plan to address its specific needs. The Financial Management Board Secretariat coordinates this work.

I am pleased to report that significant progress has been made in tackling this problem. Eighty-one percent of the Government of the Northwest Territories major computer systems, systems that keep this government functioning on a daily basis, have been evaluated and corrected. Also, 85 percent of the personal computers currently in use have been evaluated and are ready for the Year 2000. The local area networks that allow our computers to communicate with one another have also been evaluated and 83 percent are Year 2000 compliant.

Systems with embedded chips pose a particular problem. It is often not obvious where embedded chips are in use. Of the embedded systems identified to date, fully 98 percent have been identified and deemed to be Year 2000 compliant. Efforts in this area continue.

This report provides much more information on both the nature of the problem and the work that has been done so far. It is this government's intent to make this information available to the public, and to any other parties who may have an interest in our Year 2000 efforts. It is the nature of such a project that this information will change, virtually on a daily basis. This report will be updated monthly to keep it current. Copies of the report are available from the Financial Management Board Secretariat, or on the Government of the Northwest Territories Website.

It is important to recognize that the Year 2000 problem is enormous in scope and has no precedent. As a result, it is impossible to guarantee that every single eventuality can be addressed through this initiative. It is our intent to ensure that our most important services are not interrupted by this problem. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 55-13(7): Year 2000 Status Report
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Ministers' statements. Mr. Steen.

Minister's Statement 56-13(7): Community Recreation Leader Development
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over the week of April 12-18, the Town of Inuvik hosted the NWT Recreation and Parks Association annual general meeting and meetings of community recreation leaders.

What was satisfying about these two events was that most communities in the NWT were represented. Fourteen of the community recreation leaders present were aboriginal Northerners and an additional nine were long term Northerners. Most of these leaders were educated at the Recreation Leaders' Program at Aurora College.

Mr. Speaker, these numbers demonstrated a strong point. For 12 years, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and Aurora College have partnered in the delivery of the Recreation Leaders Program. Seventy-one students have graduated and many are working on the job and continue to contribute. Of these graduates, most are Northerners who have learned the value of a good education. They are now contributing to the positive development of our communities through their sport and recreation services.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate our partners, Aurora College, in this initiative and make special note of the contribution that has been made by other groups such as the NWT Recreation and Parks Association, Sport North and the NWT community governments. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 56-13(7): Community Recreation Leader Development
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

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

Member's Statement 144-13(7): Hay River Parents' Concerns Regarding The Education System
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I tabled in the House a letter addressed to the Honourable Michael Miltenberger from a parent focus group in Hay River. This group of concerned citizens mobilized because they were so concerned about the impact of government cutbacks on educational programming. They are just now in the midst of completing their work. They are compiling the results of parents' concerns through the use of questionnaires and a telephone survey. Although the results are not concluded at this time, they note that, and I quote, "it is obvious that the concerns are not isolated to a few parents."

I further quote from their letter:

How long does the government plan to ignore what the taxpayers are telling them? We are not happy with the slash and burn approach to reduce educational spending. Large class size increases the stress for students, teachers and parents, which directly affects student's learning. The implementation of inclusive schooling, which is the integration of special needs students into a regular classroom without sufficient support and resources cannot continue.

The consequences of the careless and short-sighted education cuts affect our whole community. We have high levels of dropouts and too many young people with insufficient skills to help them survive in the workplace. When will the government realize that money spent wisely on education will give our youth the skills that they need to be productive contributors to society and as a result will reduce the government's expenditures on social programs.

Mr. Speaker, I fully understand the frustration and anger of parents who are rightfully concerned about the education of their children. The dire needs in education are not an illusion or a perception, they are real. These parents in Hay River and others are not asking the government to solve the problems by themselves, they are willing to do what they can to help arrive at solutions. I believe them when they say that they will pursue these issues as long as it takes to get results. I applaud and thank them for their efforts and I encourage other communities to form similar focus groups to demand action from this government in the area of education. Later today, I will be questioning the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment further on what direction he will be taking on these serious matters. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 144-13(7): Hay River Parents' Concerns Regarding The Education System
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Members' statements. Mr. Rabesca.

Member's Statement 145-13(7): Meeting To Discuss Highway 3 Reconstruction
Item 3: Members' Statements

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James Rabesca North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform this House of a meeting that will take place this afternoon, here in the Legislative Assembly. This meeting is very unique because it has members of the Rae-Edzo Hamlet and the Band Council together with the city of Yellowknife, the N'dilo Band Council, Dettah Council, myself and my colleagues from Yellowknife.

The main focus of this historic event will be discussions on how we as a group can help our government in accelerating the highway 3 construction. I believe this is a very important issue and by having this unique group coming together as one united body is a testament of the importance of this highway. This is the first time ever that this group has assembled and I am hoping to have very positive discussions on this and other important items that have our combined interests. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 145-13(7): Meeting To Discuss Highway 3 Reconstruction
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.

Member's Statement 146-13(7): Yellowknife Constituency Meeting Issues
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier this week, on Tuesday evening, Mr. Erasmus, Mr. Henry and I held a joint constituency meeting. I would like to briefly summarize some of the issues that constituents raised: Education funding, people are concerned about the lack of dollars in this year's budget. They urged us to try to find additional monies for education. On the budget, people are concerned that our $34 million surplus is being used this year and they are concerned what will happen next year.

Constituents told us that over the last two years they have tolerated reduced spending on key public services because they believed it was important to have a balanced budget for division. But now, with the budget balanced and our surplus committed, there are no spare funds in the bank for after next year.

As our population continues to grow, programs in Education, Health and Social Services are already underfunded now. What will the future bring? Clearly, we need to continue our efforts in finding new revenues. Royalties from resource developments are one possible source.

On another matter, a number of constituents involved in running non-profit organizations are very concerned about government support in this area. The non-profit service sector is a major employer and program manager in many of our communities. For example, at our meeting, representatives from the YWCA and the Canadian Mental Health Association pointed to a crisis situation in the lack of multi-year funding commitments. When they are running an operation with rental and staffing commitments based only on year-to-year funding, these organizations suffer from high staff turnover and program interruption.

The government provides funds to these organizations. It is also a major referral agent, directing individuals to these organizations for counselling, emergency care and work placements. It would seem to me that it is in our best interest to work at ensuring stability and success in program delivery.

I would like to see the government do a review of how it funds non-profit organizations and how both the government and the non-profit organizations can better meet the public's needs. These were some of the issues. Another issue included the Highway 3 acceleration, and the situation at Giant Mine. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 146-13(7): Yellowknife Constituency Meeting Issues
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Members' statements. Mr. Steen.

Member's Statement 147-13(7): Mothers Day Wishes
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we will be recessing this afternoon, I understand, and we will not be back until May 10, 1999. Since Mother's Day is May 9, 1999, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the mothers in my riding, young and old, a happy Mothers Day. In particular, my wife and my daughter Tina. We all know the amount of work mothers go through and the contributions they make to the family. We should all be encouraging our children to be good to our mothers on that particular day. Thank you.

--Applause

Member's Statement 147-13(7): Mothers Day Wishes
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Members' statements. Mr. Erasmus.