This is page numbers 521 - 548 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, 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 521

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Good afternoon. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 59-13(7): Community Wellness In Action
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 521

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling Community Wellness in Action: 1997-98. Community Wellness in Action is published annually by the Department of Health and Social Services based on reports received from the communities. The report summarizes community wellness activities that took place at the community and regional level during the last fiscal year. This is the third year that the Department of Health and Social Services has produced this report.

The activities reported in Community Wellness in Action reflect priorities set by the communities themselves. In 1997-98, communities identified mental health and child development as priority areas. Many projects in the report were planned and delivered by community organizations and agencies to address those areas.

Community wellness funding in the Northwest Territories comes from a variety of sources. This year's report includes information on activities that were funded through a number of different programs including:

- Brighter Futures;

- the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program;

- the Healthy Children Initiative;

- Aboriginal Head Start Initiative;

- AIDS Community Action Program; and

- the Community Action Program for Children

In 1997-98, these programs saw over $6.3 million invested in community wellness initiatives in the western NWT alone. While much of this funding originates from Health Canada, the success of our Community Wellness Initiatives depends on the work of many partners. These include:

- Health Canada;

- the Department of Education, Culture and Employment;

- regional and community health and social services boards;

- tribal, hamlet and band councils;

- community groups and non-government organizations; and

- the Department of Health and Social Services

Mr. Speaker, being healthy is about more than whether or not you are sick. You cannot measure health by just looking at the rates of illness in a community or region. You cannot tell how healthy people are only by looking at the kinds of treatment services available to them.

Being healthy means being able to prevent sickness and avoid the need for treatment. People and communities need to be able to address the root causes of individual and social illness. In 1986 the World Health Organization expanded its definition of health to include, "the ability to identify and realize aspirations, to satisfy needs and to change or cope with a changing environment." We can help Northerners become truly healthy by building their capacity to maintain wellness at the community and individual level.

Community wellness funding in the Northwest Territories builds capacity and helps individuals and communities develop their own wellness resources. Promoting health and preventing illness is an important goal for the Department of Health and Social Services. The Community Wellness Initiatives carried out across the North help us work toward that goal. Mr. Speaker, I would encourage all Members to review the report and support the Community Wellness Initiatives underway in their communities. Thank you.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 59-13(7): Community Wellness In Action
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 521

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 60-13(7): Equal Pay Tribunal To Be Held In Ottawa
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 521

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, last week the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing the equal pay complaint filed by the Public Service Alliance of Canada against the Government of the Northwest Territories decided to hold its hearings primarily in Ottawa. This government is disappointed that the tribunal did not recognize the significance of holding a majority of the hearings in the North. That way, Mr. Speaker, the process would have been open to those most affected by the outcome, which as the tribunal acknowledges, is at least three years away.

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed that the tribunal has, in its decision, stated the federal government has a "supervisory responsibility" over the territories, and assumes that the federal government will pay for any award made. The NWT receives funding from the federal government through a formula that is similar to the equalization arrangement for the provinces. For the tribunal to make the assumption that the federal government will pay for any equal pay decision in the Northwest Territories is irresponsible unless they have a commitment from Finance Minister Martin that we are not aware of. Further, to suggest that the Government of the Northwest Territories is simply an arm of the federal government is to deny decades of progress that has resulted in an independent, autonomous and responsible northern government.

The Government of the Northwest Territories spent considerable time and resources providing evidence to the tribunal concerning the importance of holding these hearings in the North. We asked the tribunal to allow us to call Northerners as witnesses to explain the importance of the tradition where hearings that affect Northerners are held in the North. Mr. Speaker, they refused to hear them. The tribunal's decision states that there is nothing to be gained by exploring the issue of bringing justice closer to the people. Further, they state that, according to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the people most affected by and interested in this case are in Ottawa.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Human Rights Commission both asked that the hearings be held primarily in Ottawa. The tribunal stated that convenience was a serious consideration in its decision. The Tribunal Registry, its staff, the PSAC and the Commission are all resident in Ottawa. By deciding to hold the hearings in Ottawa, the tribunal chose to ignore the fact that Government of the Northwest Territories documents, staff and ordinary witnesses are in the North. Obviously, whose convenience is most worthy of consideration depends on your point of view.

Mr. Speaker, Northerners have fought for decades to move decision making on northern matters from Ottawa to the North. The tribunal is ignoring this tradition. This decision allows for the opening and closing statements to be held in the North; however, the remainder of the hearings will take place in Ottawa. Given how long other tribunals have taken, we are probably talking about three weeks in the North and as long as five years in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories argued that an important part of educating the northern public on this issue is to ensure that the hearings are accessible to northern media. In response, the tribunal stated that the public interest in Canada will be better served by having the hearings in the national capital where it will be closer to the national press.

My understanding is that in most cases the hearing is held in the place that appears to be most substantially connected to the subject of the litigation. Given that the complaint was filed against the Government of the Northwest Territories on behalf of employees in the Northwest Territories, it is difficult to understand why the tribunal would consider holding these hearings anywhere other than in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, over the next 30 days I will review this decision with officials to determine if we will seek a judicial review of the tribunal decision. I will update Members on any further developments. Mahsi.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 60-13(7): Equal Pay Tribunal To Be Held In Ottawa
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 522

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 61-13(7): National Children's Agenda
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 522

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the Members of this House that last Friday in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the provinces and territories, in conjunction with the federal government, launched the National Children's Agenda.

The National Children's Agenda is an initiative that offers all Canadians the opportunity to determine priorities with respect to children. The agenda will support the critical and primary role that parents, families and communities play in the lives of children.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments worked together to identify key issues in the development of two publications that have just been released. The first is titled, "A National Children's Agenda - Developing a Shared Vision". There is also a supplementary document titled, "Measuring Child Well-Being and Monitoring Progress." Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling these documents in the House later today.

The vision documents are intended to guide a national consultation process to help frame social policies for children. National aboriginal organizations participated in the development of a special chapter that addresses the specific issues affecting aboriginal children, including a perspective on children's issues written in their own voice.

The vision documents identify the following four goals for the National Children's Agenda; to ensure that Canada's children are:

- healthy physically and emotionally;

- safe and secure;

- successful at learning; and;

- socially engaged and responsible.

The launch of a public dialogue on a National Children's Agenda reflects the commitments made by governments in the Social Union Framework Agreement, to ensure that Canadians participate in developing social priorities and that governments share information on successes in their jurisdictions. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social Services will coordinate NWT participation in the consultation process for the NCA. The NCA documents will be sent to stakeholders and organizations. Residents of the NWT will also have opportunities to contribute through:

- a 1-800 number;

- a national website; and

- a national mailing address.

It is important that Northerners participate and provide input, particularly since 37 percent of the NWT population is under the age of 19 years as compared to the national average of 26.5 percent.

Mr. Speaker, the National Children's Agenda also coincides with work currently being undertaken in the NWT in relation to children and youth. In conjunction with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, and my other colleagues in the social envelope, we are working to develop a Territorial Agenda for Children & Youth. The national initiative will complement this work. I encourage all NWT residents, both young and old, to take advantage of the consultation process for the NCA, to help create a shared vision of, and commitment to, a brighter future for our children. Thank you.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 61-13(7): National Children's Agenda
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 523

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Member's Statement 157-13(7): Environmental Liabilities Associated With Northern Development
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 523

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one thing that we do not hear much of in this House and in the discussions that go on in the Northwest Territories, we seem to be discussing a lot in the area of development, diamonds, in consideration of opening up our resources. Mr. Speaker, the environment in the Northwest Territories is sensitive and must be viewed as such, in regard to the challenges that we face in the Northwest Territories compared to the rest of Canada and the world. But, Mr. Speaker, we have to consider those challenges such as tundra, permafrost, river systems that flow from high populous areas in the south and north to the Arctic Ocean.

But yet, Mr. Speaker, we have to learn from our past experiences that we have had in the Northwest Territories when it comes to development. Mr. Speaker, I am talking about issues such as the Cannol Trail which was built in the 1940s in regard to running a pipeline from Norman Wells to Whitehorse in the Yukon. Also, consideration of the Dew Line sites that basically spread across the Arctic from Alaska all the way to Greenland. Also, uranium mines which were developed during the 1940s on Great Bear Lake which is now becoming an issue with the people of Deline. In regard to those issues, Mr. Speaker, we have to consider, how are we going to deal with abandoned mines such as Pine Point, for example, the arsenic problem that we have at Giant Mine and also the abandonment of camps on the tundra, the cause of the prospecting rush that took place. Also, the consideration of the increased mining claims in the Northwest Territories, the possibility of abandoned mines and exactly what the cost to this government is going to be in the long term.

Mr. Speaker, as aboriginal people in the North that live in unity with the environment, we have to realize that the environment is probably one of the most sensitive things that we can deal with at this time. Mr. Speaker, we have not had an opportunity to really look at the implications of the greenhouse effect that is presently underway and the effects it will have on permafrost in the Northwest Territories, from the experience on the east coast of Canada with the problem with their fishery and now we are seeing it in the west coast. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Member's Statement 157-13(7): Environmental Liabilities Associated With Northern Development
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 523

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Mackenzie Delta is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do I have any nays? Mr. Krutko, you have unanimous consent.

Member's Statement 157-13(7): Environmental Liabilities Associated With Northern Development
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 523

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In consideration of experiences elsewhere in Canada, such as the slaughter of the buffalo herd in the Prairie Provinces in the early 1800s, recognizing that this problem is not only unique to the buffalo. You look at our neighbours in the west in the Yukon where they are presently having to find ways to replenish the caribou herds in certain areas because of overhunting and overharvesting. I strongly believe, Mr. Speaker, that we must keep in mind that the environment and development has to work hand in hand, but also realizing we do have a sensitive environment in northern Canada. Thank you.

--Applause

Member's Statement 157-13(7): Environmental Liabilities Associated With Northern Development
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 523

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Rabesca.

Member's Statement 158-13(7): Safety Concerns During Reconstruction Of Highway 3
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 523

James Rabesca North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, Mr. Speaker, as spring has now brought new opportunities, we also see ourselves driving a highway that is badly in need of repair. Every year we go through this and I hope this year the Department of Transportation will act in a prudent manner and get the equipment out to repair the last 75 kilometres of gravel highway left on Highway 3. As both ends of this section of road between Rae and Yellowknife are now under construction, this leaves only approximately 75 kilometres of Highway 3 for the department to repair and maintain. I hope the department will work extra hard to ensure the safety and standard of this road is maintained to the premium it should be in.

This is the time of year when many people travel and with this road in its present condition, it is not only very dangerous to travellers, but also to the many people that hunt and walk along this road. So with that in mind, I hope the Department of Transportation will start to repair the last 75 kilometres of gravel road on Highway 3. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 158-13(7): Safety Concerns During Reconstruction Of Highway 3
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 523

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.