This is page numbers 491 - 519 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

Member's Statement 153-13(7): Education Funding Concerns
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 493

James Rabesca North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, Mr. Speaker, we find ourselves in this Chamber ready to continue our discussions regarding our current year's budget as well as working on various other important items. Recently, I received a letter from a concerned educator working in my community. Her concerns, of course, are in regard to the limited amount of funding available for our education system and our children's future in education.

Recently, we have seen the Minister's Forum on Education come forward with a number of very good recommendations, as well as receiving petitions regarding this important issue from across our territory. Yet, our government continues to inform us that we do not have the dollars to implement these recommendations. I ask this House, do we want our children to suffer from the highest pupil/teacher ratio in Canada, when we already have the highest level of special needs students in Canada and the highest illiteracy in Canada? Not to mention the highest dropout rate and the highest suicide rate among the youth in Canada, as well as the lowest funding in Canada.

We must find a solution to this very grave problem or our children's future will be a very dismal sight. We need to work together to ensure proper funding is in place for all of our educational facilities. We must also ensure that our children, have the opportunity to succeed as well as any child across the country has. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 153-13(7): Education Funding Concerns
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 493

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Erasmus.

Member's Statement 154-13(7): Development Of A Northern Accord
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 493

Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to comment today on the development of a Northern Accord and the reasons why we need it. Mr. Speaker, last week the Premier and a couple of Cabinet Ministers made a presentation to the Dene chiefs here, in Yellowknife. They had indicated that they had wished to develop some kind of, what we have called in the past, a Northern Accord, to bring control of the northern resources to northerners. In the past the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development has indicated that she would not proceed unless all the aboriginal governments were in agreement.

Mr. Speaker, a good example of why we need to act quickly in this regard is that the federal government refuses to act in the best interests of Northerners. You just have to look at the federal government's refusal to include recommendations on the secondary diamond industry in its comprehensive study of the Diavik Diamond Project. Mr. Speaker, 80 percent of the socio-economic benefits from diamond mining come after the diamonds are taken from the ground. If we cannot ensure northern access to rough diamonds, we may as well just leave those diamonds in the ground.

--Applause

Right now, we receive virtually nothing, no benefits, while the federal government receives over 90 percent of the royalties.

Mr. Speaker, the guidelines for the environmental assessment of the Diavik project state that the project must provide opportunities to diversify the northern economic base to produce and supply new goods and services. The federal government is refusing to put this into their guidelines and we cannot force Diavik to provide rough diamonds for a local secondary diamond industry or to provide jobs to Northerners because the federal government has legal control of our resources currently. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Member's Statement 154-13(7): Development Of A Northern Accord
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 494

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Yellowknife North is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do I have any nays? Mr. Erasmus, you have unanimous consent.

Member's Statement 154-13(7): Development Of A Northern Accord
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 494

Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I indicated, we currently cannot do much to force resource developers to provide rough diamonds for a secondary industry and we know that we are probably going to have a $60 million deficit in a couple of years here and aboriginal governments need money to implement self-government. Mr. Speaker, this indicates to me that the aboriginal governments and the GNWT should focus on developing a process as quickly as possible so that, hopefully, this would provide enough extra revenue so we can maintain current levels of programs and services. I applaud the government in its move and I urge the aboriginal leadership to accept the offer and to move quickly. Finally, Mr. Speaker, I also would suggest that the aboriginal leadership do not try to solve all the problems between us while coming to an agreement. Thank you.

--Applause

Member's Statement 154-13(7): Development Of A Northern Accord
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 494

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Morin.

Member's Statement 155-13(7): Dealing With Special Needs Children
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 494

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As my Member's statement today I will be reading a letter I received from one of my constituents.

As a parent, I would like to say to you, the Minister of Education, the former Minister of Education and the Assembly, the following:

Do any of you know what it is like to teach a child with special needs, along with 20 or more other children in the classroom? I am a parent with a special needs child that is ADHD and I have volunteered my time in the classrooms to help out. As a parent this is not an easy job, to raise a child with special needs. Could you imagine a teacher with just one child with ADHD, ADD, FAS or FAE with no help in the classroom? It would be like trying to teach 40 children all at the same time. In our school a lot of the classrooms are split classrooms. Not only are the teachers frustrated, but the children are as well, not to mention the special needs children. We fail to help them for no other reason than for money. Our children want to learn and are not getting the help they need from their own government. Please do not pass the buck to the next set of MLAs. We need the help now. We are pleading to you for help. Find the money that is needed to help our children, do not tell us there is no money when we hear that $1 million is going to adult education. Put some of it into our young students, and if you do it now, then it will not cost you more in the future. Make sure you know what is important to our future. As a parent and a Northerner, I believe our children's education is our future. I keep hearing that education is very important to our elected officials and yet it is the last to get help.

Our former Minister of Education spent approximately $350,000 on a forum, yet everything that the forum found out was put on the table with Mr. Dent last May by all District Education Council Chairpersons. Do you not think that the money spent should have gone into the classrooms? Do not forget it is taxpayers' money, so do not put us aside. In closing, I would like to thank everyone for listening and I would like you to reconsider your decision and put more money in the classrooms for the benefit of our children.

A parent in need.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 155-13(7): Dealing With Special Needs Children
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 494

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Members' statements. Mr. Henry.

Member's Statement 156-13(7): Union Representation For NWT Power Corporation
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 494

Seamus Henry Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling a petition signed by over a hundred employees of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation. I would like to give a little background to the issue raised in the petition. Under our Public Service Act, the Union of Northern Workers is designated as the employees' association for all employees of the Northwest Territories. The employees have no right under Northwest Territories legislation to decide who will most effectively represent their interests.

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of association as a fundamental freedom of each Canadian citizen. Our Public Service Act expressly denies that right. I have raised this issue before with the Minister responsible for the Power Corporation. I appreciate that he has said that he would be willing to change our act if he was convinced that a majority of Power Corporation employees wanted changes. Mr. Speaker, the petition that I will be tabling today bears the signatures of a majority of the unionized Power Corporation employees in our territory. These employees all want the ability to explore alternative representation. I believe the Minister's condition has now been met.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to point out that even without this petition, the Public Service Act should still be changed for all government workers. Employees must have freedom of association, the right to choose, at all times, not just when the Minister agrees. Employees may or may not choose to stay with the UNW at any time, but it must be their choice, without interference from outside parties.

Mr. Speaker, I trust that once this petition is tabled, the Minister will act with the utmost urgency to bring the necessary amendments to the Public Service Act to the House. As he is aware, negotiations are ongoing and this issue is extremely time sensitive. Changes must be made now or the Power Corporation employees' rights will be denied for a further three years. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 156-13(7): Union Representation For NWT Power Corporation
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 495

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Return To Oral Question 89-13(7): Policies To Assist Small Business
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions

Page 495

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have a return to an oral question asked by the honourable Mr. Krutko on April 21, 1999, in regard to policies to assist small business.

The Business Incentive Policy is the government's main procurement policy. The policy provides existing northern businesses with a level of business incentive that compensates for the higher cost of operating a business in the Northwest Territories. The business incentive provides a 15 percent bid adjustment for approved northern businesses and an additional 5 percent for operating the business in a specific community, resulting in a combined preference for local content of 20 percent. Despite this, it is still the responsibility of individual businesses to bid competitively on government contracts.

A negotiated contract for the design and construction of a new school at Fort McPherson was awarded to the Gwich'in Development Corporation by the Beaufort Delta Education Council. Tetlit'zheh Construction Ltd. is a sub-contractor under this contract. The parties to this contract are currently under mediation in an effort to resolve outstanding issues.

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Return To Oral Question 89-13(7): Policies To Assist Small Business
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions

Page 495

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Returns to oral questions. Mr. Steen.

Return To Oral Question 166-13(7): Microfilming Government Documents
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions

Page 495

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have a return to an oral question asked by Mr. Henry on April 30, 1999, regarding microfilming government documents.

The GNWT has made substantial progress in recent years toward improving records keeping and records storage processes. The Department of Public Works and Services has been working with departments toward effective records management in a variety of areas. The adoption of a standard classification system was a major step, as are the ongoing efforts towards computerization.

As part of its advice and support to departments, PWS provides regular information concerning the best form for keeping records, whether it be paper, microfilm or some other format. For example, filming records that must be kept longer than 25 years may be done to save storage space or it may be done so that a backup copy is readily available. Information about these types of issues is provided and discussed at regular meetings of department records coordinators. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Return To Oral Question 166-13(7): Microfilming Government Documents
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions

Page 495

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Return to oral question, Mr. Kakfwi.

Returns To Oral Question 169-13(7): Alternative Mining Technology
Item 4: Returns To Oral Questions

May 10th, 1999

Page 495

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you Mr. Speaker, I have two returns today, both to Mr. Erasmus from questions he asked on the 30th of April. The first is in relation to alternative mining technology.

As required by the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, proponents are required to consider any alternative means of carrying out the project which are technically and economically feasible and assess the environmental effects of each alternative means. The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, as the lead regulatory authority under the environmental assessment process, evaluated the three alternative mining technologies presented by Diavik. DIAND hired a consultant who evaluated Diavik's assessment of alternatives and provided a written critique.