This is page numbers 693 - 720 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 aboriginal.

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

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Minister's Statement 81-13(7): Dogrib Agreement-in-principle
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that negotiations have reached an important milestone with the Dogrib First Nation and Canada on the first combined land claim and self-government agreement-in-principle in the Northwest Territories.

This agreement-in-principle is historic. It represents a new chapter in the development of new governance models in the North. It also is an example of this government's support and recognition of the aboriginal inherent right to self-government.

We are committed to investing the time and resources necessary to develop new partnership arrangements with aboriginal governments. We have emphasized many times that peoples must develop respectful relationships with one another to make the North a better place to live in and to raise our children.

We know the political landscape of the North is changing dramatically, as we work to redefine our relationships. Just four short months ago, the people of Nunavut achieved their goal of a new territory. Now we continue the process of redesigning our system of governance in the Northwest Territories. This must be done with aboriginal and public governments.

Mr. Speaker, the Dogrib Agreement-in-Principle will be initialled by the three chief negotiators at the Dogrib Annual General Assembly in Gameti on August 9, 1999. By initialling this document, the negotiators are recommending the document to their respective governments for review. Just as importantly in our view, this will allow the document to be released for the information and consideration of all interested parties.

Once approved and signed by all three parties, the agreement-in-principle will set the framework for negotiating a final agreement.

Mr. Speaker, while this is an important and historic event in this process, it is important to note that several outstanding issues need to be resolved before a final agreement can be concluded. Key amongst these are issues related to the financing of self-government. We have not yet reached a resolution at the Dogrib table on self-government financing, fiscal arrangements or taxation issues. The Minister of Finance will be following up with a more detailed statement on these issues later today.

Mr. Speaker, another key issue for the Government of the Northwest Territories is the resolution of overlap issues between the Dogrib First Nation and adjacent regions.

This government continues to insist that substantial progress must be made to resolve these outstanding overlap issues before the agreement-in-principle can be signed. Therefore, I urge the Dogrib First Nation to immediately enter into discussions with aboriginal governments with overlap interests in the North Slave region to develop a process that will lead to a fair and mutually satisfactory resolution of these issues.

Mr. Speaker, getting to this important milestone at the Dogrib table has been a challenge. However, it shows that aboriginal rights negotiations in the Northwest Territories are moving forward in a positive, constructive and timely manner.

I would like to recognize the hard work and dedication shown by the three chief negotiators and their teams during this process and thank them for their valuable contributions. This government will take the opportunity after initialling to fully review the document and to work on resolving some of the outstanding issues that remain, including those that I have outlined here today.

Mr. Speaker, the Dogrib Agreement-in-Principle will become a public document after it is initialled on August 9. I encourage the Members of this House and all citizens of the Northwest Territories with an interest in this matter to take some time to review it. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 81-13(7): Dogrib Agreement-in-principle
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Minister's statement. Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 82-13(7): Financing The Implementation Of Self-government - GNWT Principles
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, I would like to follow up on the Premier's statement regarding the draft Dogrib Agreement-in-Principle by providing more detail on some of the financial issues. The Dogrib AIP represents a very significant amount of work on the part of the three parties. It is a crucial and historic

step for the Dogrib First Nation in realizing their aspirations.

The AIP reflects the successful conclusion of negotiations on most issues. However, negotiations on self-government financing, fiscal arrangements and taxation issues have not yet been finalized. The three parties have agreed to complete these negotiations during the final agreement phase.

Mr. Speaker, in order to clarify the GNWT's position and to provide an opportunity for public discussion, I will table today a document called Financing the Implementation of Self-Government - GNWT Principles. This document explains in some detail the proposed approach of the GNWT when negotiating fiscal arrangements with the Dogrib First Nation and Canada. These principles represent the position of this government and reflect our continued commitment to negotiate self-government agreements that are practical, affordable and which will ensure that all governments have the financial capacity to exercise their powers and meet their residents' needs.

The first and most important issue is to determine the costs to implement self-government and who will pay those costs.

There will be additional one-time and ongoing costs to establish self-government institutions and service delivery structures. The cost to implement self-government is a fiduciary responsibility of the federal government. Further, the GNWT maintains that, given our limited fiscal resources, we do not have the ability to pay for incremental costs, without compromising our ability to continue to provide the same level of programs and services to territorial residents. For both these reasons, the GNWT's position is that Canada is responsible for funding incremental costs.

The second issue is whether money would flow to the Dogrib First Nation government through the GNWT or directly from Canada. The position of the GNWT is that it will act as the funding agent where programs and services are delivered by governments or institutions that represent and serve all residents.

In areas where a First Nations government exercises its exclusive jurisdiction over its citizens or its land, the GNWT's position is that funding should flow directly from Canada. The GNWT would, in both cases, contribute its share of current expenditures on relevant programs and services.

Third, Mr. Speaker, with respect to taxation, the parties will strive to reach agreement on the extent of the taxation powers of the Dogrib First Nation government. A taxation agreement will be negotiated prior to concluding the final agreement.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to applaud the commitment and excellent efforts of the negotiating teams and acknowledge the extensive amount of work to date.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 82-13(7): Financing The Implementation Of Self-government - GNWT Principles
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Ministers' statements. Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 83-13(7): Minister's Forum On Health And Social Services
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the Members of the Legislative Assembly that the Minister's Forum on Health and Social Services has begun its work. The forum will focus on ways to sustain and improve the health and social services system in the NWT.

MLAs and other stakeholders in the health and social services system nominated forum members. The nine forum members are:

- Ms. Glenna Hansen, co-hair, Inuvik;

- Mr. Duncan MacNeill, co-chair, Hay River;

- Ms. Rita Cli, Fort Simpson;

- Mr. Don Blaquiere, Fort Smith;

- Dr. Ross Wheeler, Yellowknife, who represents the NWT Medical Association;

- Ms. Dee McCallum, Yellowknife, who represents the NWT Registered Nurses Association;

- Ms. Gina Dolphus, Deline;

- Ms. Hazel Nerysoo, Fort McPherson; and

- Mr. Blair Dunbar, Yellowknife, who represents the NWT Social Workers Association.

All forum members have been involved in the delivery of health and social services in the North. In selecting the members, I tried to achieve a balanced panel. It was difficult to choose from among the many well qualified Northerners nominated to the forum.

The forum members met in Yellowknife July 13-16 for a thorough orientation to the health and social services system and to develop their consultation schedule and work plan. Consultations will take place with the public, professional associations, aboriginal organizations, communities, health and social services boards and other stakeholders.

The purpose of the forum is to recommend ways to improve and sustain the health and social services system. I have asked them to focus on four areas including:

-Leadership and governance of the system;

-Human resources;

-Financial sustainability; and

-Program and service delivery.

Community meetings will be held from August 31 to September 9. Information on meeting times and locations will be advertised in early August.

Northerners who cannot attend a community meeting will be able to make written submissions. Advertisements calling for written submissions will soon appear in community newspapers. A toll-free phone number will also be set up to allow people to call in and give their comments.

Forum members will participate in a territorial health and wellness conference planned for October. At this time they will present an interim report on the results of their community meetings. The forum will then prepare a final report and submit their recommendations for sustaining and improving the health and social services system. I expect to receive their final report in early December.

As Members of this House know, our health and social services system is facing significant challenges. We need to act now to ensure that we have a sustainable and efficient system. I am confident that the forum will provide appropriate and affordable recommendations to ensure that our system continues to provide quality care and remains sustainable in the long term. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 83-13(7): Minister's Forum On Health And Social Services
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Steen.

Minister's Statement 84-13(7): Aboriginal Sport Circle Annual General Meeting
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that on May 30th and June 1st the Aboriginal Sport Circle of the Western Arctic held its first annual general meeting in Dettah, Northwest Territories. Aboriginal recreation leaders and volunteers from the Inuvik, Sahtu, Deh Cho, North Slave and the South Slave regions attended this gathering. The purpose of this meeting was to select a board of directors and to set the course for this newly formed organization for the new year.

Mr. Speaker, the Aboriginal Sport Circle of the Western Arctic has been established to work with other partners to promote and enhance community wellness and cultural awareness through sport and recreation. The Aboriginal Sport Circle is working in partnership with Sport North and Municipal and Community Affairs to encourage aboriginal youth in the Northwest Territories to participate in the sport, recreation and cultural activities to live healthy, productive and spiritual lifestyles.

Mr. Speaker, the Aboriginal Sport Circle desires to make a difference by working together with communities, Sport North, territorial sport organizations and our department to increase participation of aboriginal youth in sport at the community, territorial and national levels. The Aboriginal Sport Circle of the Western Arctic was created to enhance the current sport and recreation system's ability to respond to the needs for accessible, equitable, and affordable sport, recreation and cultural opportunities in smaller communities. These activities continue to play an essential role in enhancing individual lifestyles and in addressing issues such as alcohol, substance abuse and unemployment.

The Aboriginal Sport Circle will also serve as a facilitation body whereby the communities of the Western Arctic work together in partnership to increase participation of aboriginal youth in a variety of sports at all levels. The Aboriginal Sport Circle will work with Sport North, territorial sport organizations and the department to develop athletes and coaches for regional, territorial and national level competitions.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs supports the Aboriginal Sport Circle of the Western Arctic working in partnership with Sport North and its member territorial sport organizations. This will ensure that all residents of the NWT have access to sport and recreation opportunities while avoiding unnecessary duplication of administration or services. This will also allow for the development of a better sport and recreation system while working within the existing resources available. It will also allow the organization to provide some focus on addressing unique issues facing sport development in the smaller predominantly aboriginal NWT communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 84-13(7): Aboriginal Sport Circle Annual General Meeting
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 85-13(7): Response To Minister's Forum On Education
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment produced its current strategic plan in 1994. This plan has provided the vision and direction for the department's work over the past six years. In December, 1998, the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment announced a review of the plan. The purpose of this review was to update the strategic plan based on the changes that have occurred in the Northwest Territories and our vision as a new territory. As part of that process, the Minister's Forum on Education was appointed to hear the views of NWT residents on what is working and what could be improved in the education system. The forum undertook a very broad consultation process across the NWT, visiting eleven communities and receiving a number of written submissions.

Mr. Speaker, in April this year, I tabled the report of the Minister's Forum on Education in the Assembly. The report outlined both the strengths of the current system and the areas where people would like to see improvement. While the forum results are intended to be part of the longer term strategic plan update, there were a number of issues raised in the report where more immediate and short-term action was possible. We decided it was important to provide a swift response to the forum recommendations, highlighting what could be done right away. During a meeting in May, DEC and DEA chairs also expressed their support for taking quick action, where possible, on the forum recommendations.

Later today, I will be tabling our response to the nine areas of concern identified by the forum. The response speaks mainly to the actions that the department will undertake. However, these actions will also be supported by the Divisional Education Councils and District Education Authorities through other activity at the regional and school levels.

Without question, Mr. Speaker, some of the forum recommendations will need additional resources if they are to be fully implemented. As we look at future years' budgets, these needs will be reflected in our decisions as a department. However, in the meantime, staff have identified a number of actions which will have a positive impact on the areas of concern. The response speaks to those actions. The feedback from the Minister's forum and this response will be included in the longer term strategic plan update, which will be completed by September. The actions I am putting forward today are consistent with the overall direction and vision for the department over the next five to ten years.

Mr. Speaker, we believe that this response demonstrates our commitment to seriously addressing the forum's recommendations. The actions are positive and realistic within our current resources and will contribute to the continuing process of our education system. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-Applause

Minister's Statement 85-13(7): Response To Minister's Forum On Education
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Member's Statement 193-13(7): Planned Construction Of Correctional Facility
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to as concisely as possible recount the events and ironic contradictions which have led to the debate which has taken place in the House this week surrounding the government's decision to construct a collocated adult and male young offenders facility in Yellowknife. Mr. Speaker, I am obviously most familiar and most concerned with the young offenders facility component of this project. For a number of years Hay River was the home of a triple designated young offenders facility accommodating open custody, secure custody, and remand-detained youth. The structure was originally built as a receiving home for children. After being taken over as a young offenders facility, structural deficiencies under the fire and building codes were addressed to satisfy requirements on an ongoing basis, with the understanding that complete replacement would be required at some point in the future. The replacement of the facility was indicated in the five year capital plan.

Then along came the concept of Public/Private Partnerships, or P3. MLAs were canvassed to find out if there were projects in their ridings which might be adapted to P3 projects, thus alleviating pressure on the government's dwindling capital budget and involving private sector investment and generating much needed economic activity to diminish the negative impact that this diminished activity was having on our construction sector. After a brief scan of potential interest in my community for converting this projected capital replacement project to a Public/Private Partnership, I wrote to the Minister of Justice identifying this project. A list of 27 other projects was provided to Government Operations after departments provided input as to projected cost and level of priority of these facilities to their operations. On the list of 27 projects it clearly stated, replacement of young offenders facility Hay River, $10 million, high priority. After narrowing the list of projects in consultation with Government Operations, the Hay River young offenders facility was still on the short list of 12 projects.

It was not until the then Finance Minister, John Todd, issued a press release listing the P3 projects that Hay River's name was missing beside replacement of young offenders facility. When I questioned the Finance Minister in the House, he was evasive, but in private he assured me that he was pushing hard for Hay River but was meeting with resistance. Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

Member's Statement 193-13(7): Planned Construction Of Correctional Facility
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Hay River is seeking unanimous consent to conclude her statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. Mrs. Groenewegen, you have unanimous consent.