This is page numbers 661 - 692 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 yellowknife.

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 661

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Minister's Statement 76-13(7): Consultations On Financing For Community Governments
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 661

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is reviewing the way it funds community governments to run basic municipal programs and services. This review has been undertaken in partnership with the NWT Association of Municipalities and has involved elected community councillors and senior staff of a number of communities.

I have shared with Members some of the discussion papers that have been developed as part of the municipal finance review. These documents contain a number of proposals for changes to the way the department funds communities and we are anxious to receive comments on these proposals.

Plans are now being made for visits to communities to discuss these proposals. During August and September consultations will be held with community governments in every community in the Northwest Territories. As I have indicated, schedules for these visits are being arranged at this time.

In keeping with the partnership for reviewing the financing of community governments, MACA has established a number of regional consultation teams. Each regional consultation team will include a member of the NWT Association of Municipalities Board of Directors from that region and a senior administrative officer of one of the communities in the region, as well as senior MACA staff. MACA's regional superintendents are leading these consultation groups and they are contacting communities now to set up meetings with councils and their staff.

Mr. Speaker, consultations are a key part of the process in bringing change to the way we fund community governments. The steering committee for the municipal finance review will make its final recommendations to me as the Minister responsible, based on the input received from the consultation meetings held with communities.

I am informing Members of these plans for consultations, so they may participate in the meetings, which are scheduled in their communities. I look forward to sharing with you the times for these meetings when they are set.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 76-13(7): Consultations On Financing For Community Governments
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 661

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statement. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 77-13(7): Alberta And Transcanada Pipeline Agreements
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I updated Members on the increased oil and gas development activity in the Northwest Territories, and the government's intention to ensure northerners benefit from it. Today, I am pleased to advise Members that I will be signing two documents which will set the groundwork for gas development in the Northwest Territories.

First, I will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Alberta. This agreement will commit our two governments to work together to realize the development of the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin. I am pleased to welcome the Honourable Mike Cardinal, Alberta Associate Minister of Forestry, to Yellowknife for the signing of this agreement. Mr. Cardinal is signing on behalf of the Honourable Steven West, Alberta Minister of Resource Development. It is our intention that the two governments act in concert for the benefit of all producers in the basin and for the benefit of all residents of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.

I will also be signing, with Mr. Rob Reid of TransCanada Pipelines, a memorandum of understanding committing both parties to work together as industry and government to realize the development of the gas reserves of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, these two agreements will help set the tone for the present and future economies of the Northwest Territories. The signing of these agreements will take place today during the break in the Legislative Assembly's media room. Mr. Speaker, I take this opportunity to invite all Members of this House to attend. Thank you.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 77-13(7): Alberta And Transcanada Pipeline Agreements
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 661

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 78-13(7): Supporting Students Attending Post-secondary Programs
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 662

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, most NWT residents are aware of how challenging it can be for northern students to attend post-secondary education. Historically, students had to leave the NWT to pursue degrees, diplomas and trades courses. In recent years, we have developed more opportunities through Aurora College for students to either take their complete program in the NWT or to take the first year or two of a degree program. However, even with Aurora College's expanding role, most post-secondary students still leave home, moving within the NWT or to the south to pursue their choice of courses.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is trying to make that move easier. Through the Student Financial Assistance Program, Northerners are eligible for one of the most generous grant and loan systems in the country. The cost of attending college and university continues to climb at most campuses so we are looking at options for increasing the level of support available to each student. The department is working on the details and hopes that changes can be made for the 2000 school year. This in addition to the millennium scholarships which I announced earlier this week.

The department is also making a number of changes to improve service to students and streamline the SFA system. These changes include:

- establishing a website to provide the details on SFA that students need along with a chat page so students can contact each other;

- improving access to SFA officers for students;

- simplifying and clarifying the application form so students have a better understanding of what they will receive;

- implementing an improved computer system which will allow better record keeping and timely access to student information;

- increased information to students about the funding, including timing of cheques and what is included in each cheque; and,

- providing options for students who prefer to have a slight delay in their January payment in order to receive funds in the new tax year.

Mr. Speaker, early this summer, a group of post-secondary students gathered together to talk about their experiences with the SFA Program. They shared their issues and ideas with the department and we are trying to address their concerns. While we may not be able to address everything immediately, this type of constructive feedback from students on the program is very helpful in improving our services. I would like to thank the organizers of this group for their efforts to make the system better for all students.

Some of the concerns raised by the students were a lack of information about SFA and having no effective way for students to connect with other NWT residents at the same college or university. In an attempt to address some of those difficulties, the department is sponsoring a series of pilot events for post-secondary students over the next three weeks. In cooperation with local MLAs and community representatives, the department will be holding SFA information barbecues in Yellowknife, Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith and Fort Simpson.

At each of these events, department staff will be on hand to answer specific questions about the Student Financial Assistance Program. This will include information about the millennium scholarships. We are also inviting students who are entering their final year to share their career interests and resumes with career development officers who will be available as a first step towards finding employment in the NWT after graduation. As well, there will be opportunities for students to connect with other students who are also attending the same college or university. This is particularly helpful for first year students who may have questions that only a seasoned student can help answer.

We hope many NWT students will take advantage of this chance to get ready for school and get the additional information they might need. In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish each of our NWT post-secondary students good luck with the coming year's studies. Leaving your home, families and friends is not easy but the end result in terms of career choices will make it all worthwhile. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 78-13(7): Supporting Students Attending Post-secondary Programs
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 662

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements, Mr. Steen.

Minister's Statement 79-13(7): 1999 Western Canada Summer Games
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 662

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to speak about the 1999 Western Canada Summer Games which were recently held in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Our team included 131 NWT residents from 18 communities. They joined almost 2000 other competitors from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon.

Mr. Speaker, there are many special stories about Team NWT that I would like to share with you. First, I would like to congratulate all the team members for their performance. Our athletes were excellent ambassadors of our northern spirit.

Team NWT took home three medals. Jonathan Kurszewski of Fort Smith won a gold medal in the javelin by throwing his personal best distance.

--Applause

In wrestling, Peter Houweling and Aziz Ahmed, both of Yellowknife, won silver and bronze medals.

--Applause

Mr. Speaker, there are two other stories about Team NWT that I would like to share. Our first ever wheelchair athlete, Vital Manuel from Fort Good Hope, competed in tennis. He represents a movement to include persons with disabilities in mainstream sports. Dawn Tremblay, of Yellowknife, competed in wrestling. She represents the successful promotion of female athletes in non-traditional sports.

--Applause

Mr. Speaker, I again would like to congratulate all members of Team NWT for their fine performance. I am sure that the Members would join me in saying that we are proud of them and wish them the very best as they progress in their chosen sports. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 79-13(7): 1999 Western Canada Summer Games
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 663

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 80-13(7): Career Development Program For Law Students
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 663

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am proud to announce that the Department of Justice has created a bursary program for qualified NWT aboriginal law students. It is called the Department of Justice Career Development Program and will be available to resident aboriginal students who have been accepted or conditionally accepted in a Bachelor of Laws program at a recognized Canadian University Faculty of Law. The program will offer $10,000 bursaries for a maximum of four law students. These law students will also have the benefit of a summer job with the Department of Justice, and mentoring from department lawyers throughout the summer and school year. The department will assist each bursary student in an effort to get an articling position. At least one student each year will have the opportunity to article in the department's legal division. If more than one bursary recipient graduates in the same year, the students will be provided the opportunity to compete for the articling position.

The Deputy Minister of Justice will appoint a selection committee to screen and select the successful students. The committee will include department officials from legal division, legislation division, personnel services and the directorate.

These $10,000 bursaries will be awarded each year and must be used in the year awarded. A student wishing to obtain a bursary for a second or third year will have to reapply before the start of the next school year and must have successfully completed each year of study and had a satisfactory performance appraisal. The committee will develop criteria which it will use to evaluate applications for the bursary, but priority will be given to students who wish to practice law with the Government of the Northwest Territories.

This program demonstrates our commitment to encourage aboriginal students to pursue careers as lawyers in the Northwest Territories and to one day assume professional and senior management positions within the Department of Justice. Anyone wanting to learn more about this opportunity or to submit an application for the 1999-2000 school year can contact the manager of personnel services at the Department of Justice. Thank you.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 80-13(7): Career Development Program For Law Students
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 663

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Member's Statement 187-13(7): Concerns Regarding Yellowknife Correctional Facilities
Item 3: Members' Statements

July 28th, 1999

Page 663

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my statement today falls in line with the questions that have been raised in this House about an increase in developing a brand new correction facility here in Yellowknife at a cost of over $30 million. Mr. Speaker, I find it awfully offensive at this time, after going through the cuts we made in this House in regard to having to cut alcohol and drug programs, closure of the Tl'oondih Healing Centre in my riding, Delta House in Inuvik, cuts to alcohol and drug specialists in our different communities, and also cuts to the youth initiatives that we have taken in this House. In regard to where we are going with this idea, it floors me. We talk about developing our youth, developing our communities, community justice, community wellness. We talk about community empowerment, taking care of problems in the communities at home in the communities. But here we are again, developing a major institutional structure to institutionalize the people of the Northwest Territories in bigger jail facilities, bigger young offender facilities.

Basically the people in the North have been institutionalized since they were born. Either through the hostel systems or the school systems, they were taken away from the communities. We had to go away to go to school. We are doing the same thing again with the youth of this territory by putting them in a facility, a joint facility at that, with criminals who are adults. That I question on the basis, is it constitutionally right for this government to be taking such an action knowing that there is the possibility of legal parameters that we may have to follow to realize that these individuals, these youth, have to be protected against other criminals? This government decides to go ahead and put two institutions into one, have the youth on the one side of the building and have the basically hard-core criminals on the other side. I just cannot get at where this government is coming from when they tell us, we are trying to help the communities take on more responsibilities and take on more control of what happens in your communities. You deal with your problems in your communities. We give you the resources. But what do we do? We take the resources away from the communities. We build more correction facilities and institutions, and then that is the answer for the people in our communities. Is it this government's way of running the government by taking everything away from the communities? Thank you.

--Applause

Member's Statement 187-13(7): Concerns Regarding Yellowknife Correctional Facilities
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.