This is page numbers 47 - 70 of the Hansard for the 14th Assembly, 2nd 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 communities.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Roger Allen, Honourable Jim Antoine, Mr. Bell, Mr. Braden, Mr. Delorey, Mr. Dent, Honourable Jane Groenewegen, Honourable Joe Handley, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Lee, Mr. McLeod, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. Nitah, Honourable Jake Ootes, Mr. Roland, Honourable Vince Steen, Honourable Tony Whitford.

-- Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Good afternoon. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The Chair recognizes the honourable Minister responsible for Transportation, Mr. Vince Steen.

Vince Steen

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to announce that as of Wednesday, March 1, 2000, the maximum speed limit for trucks on the unreconstructed portion of Highway No. 3 between the Stagg River and Yellowknife will be reduced from its present 90 kilometres per hour to 70 kilometres per hour.

I believe that, in view of the condition of this section of highway and the increased volume of traffic travelling on it, a lower speed limit for trucks will reduce the wear and tear on the road and give motorists a greater sense of confidence that they can travel the highway safely. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Steen. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for Health and Social Services, Mrs. Jane Groenewegen.

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Minister's Forum on Health and Social Services was appointed last summer by the previous Minister responsible for Health and Social Services, Mr. Floyd Roland. Its mandate was to examine the health and social services system through a public consultation process and make recommendations to improve the system.

During their public consultations, the forum heard from over 800 groups, agencies and individuals. Forum members listened to Northwest Territories residents express concerns and possible ways to address these concerns. Then the forum members had the challenging task of summarizing what they heard into a report.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the forum's report has a very good title - Let's Get On With It!. The consultations and final report provide this government with yet another opportunity to evaluate our priorities and current actions. We know that the health and social services system in the Northwest Territories is facing increased challenges in delivering quality and timely care to the people of the Northwest Territories.

The challenges come from a growing and aging population, our vast geography, and higher-than-national rates in some key health concern areas, as highlighted in our Health Status Report. These issues place increasing demands on the system. Workable solutions are needed if we are to continue to meet the needs of our people.

As the forum consultations demonstrate, our strategic plan is focused in the right direction. We are working towards a people-focused system that places the needs of the family first and seeks to find community-based solutions to our health and social issues.

Mr. Speaker, we have been working on strategies and initiatives to improve our system. They include:

  • • implementing a recruitment and retention strategy to bring stability to our northern workforce and increase its capacity;
  • • implementing a health promotion strategy, placing more focus on preventing health and social conditions;
  • • developing a mental health and wellness strategy to address issues like family violence, substance abuse and addictions and to determine the network of services that should be in place; and
  • • implementing changes to improve institutional and community-based programs for people requiring continuing care.

As their first priority, the forum has suggested we develop criteria for establishing or continuing with health and social services boards. Concerns regarding the administration and the number of these boards have been raised in the past by MLAs, professional associations and members of the public. The number and variety of board structures can be costly and make it difficult to coordinate effective delivery across the system. Mr. Speaker, I have already directed my department to begin work in this area, and I hope to have options to review this spring.

There are many other examples of our progress. The forum's report has added momentum to the work underway. Later today, I will be tabling the final report of the Minister's forum. I have already instructed my department to begin examining the recommendations contained in the report. I will be inviting stakeholders to comment on the implications these recommendations have for our system. Based on this review, I will table a formal response to the forum's report this spring.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of the forum members, including:

  • • Duncan McNeill, Hay River;
  • • Glenna Hansen, Inuvik;
  • • Don Blaquiere, Fort Simpson;
  • • Gina Dolphus, Fort Smith;
  • • Hazel Nerysoo, Fort McPherson;
  • • Dee McCallum, RN, Yellowknife;
  • • Blair Dunbar, Social Worker, Yellowknife; and
  • • Ross Wheeler, Yellowknife.

These individuals have demonstrated their passion and commitment to making a difference in the lives of Northerners, and for this we are grateful. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. Stephen Kakfwi.

Stephen Kakfwi

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Business Development Fund is one of many incentive programs offered by the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development. Later today, I will be tabling the fund's Recipients' Report for 1998-99, as well as the Annual Report.

Members will note that both of these reports cover the time period prior to division. The Recipients' Report identifies the contributions made through the fund while the Annual Report provides analysis of the program.

Mr. Speaker, the Business Development Fund provides assistance to northern businesses to help cover start-up costs, to secure additional investment and to develop business skills, new markets and products. The fund paid out $3.6 million to 274 approved businesses during 1998-99. Funding was provided for a variety of business ventures. For example, a $6,000 contribution to Noda Enterprises Ltd. In Kakisa for marketing and advertising services in support of the community's general store and a $45,000 contribution to Deh Cho Air Ltd., in Fort Liard for the purchase of an aircraft.

Through the community initiatives program of the Business Development Fund, financial assistance is provided to community-based organizations for economic development projects that benefit entire communities. This program is designed to work in partnership with other community development programs. During 1998-99, $5.7 million was distributed among 259 community initiatives. Contributions ranged from $1,000 to Deninu K'ue Development Corporation in Fort Resolution for participation in an economic development conference to $110,000 to the Community Gardening Society in Inuvik to help cover costs involved in converting the arena into an operating greenhouse.

The majority of funding provided through the Business Development Fund went to aboriginal-owned business and communities.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to commend the spirit and enthusiasm of the business community in the Northwest Territories and extend our commitment for on-going service and assistance. The efforts of the business community continue to play a vital role in the growth of our northern economy. Mahsi cho.

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

David Krutko

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring the attention of this House to a young individual, Ms. Candace Smith of Fort McPherson. This young lady is very deserving of recognition for her initiative to look for ways to improve herself.

Candace, on her own initiative, applied for a program, EF Foundations High School Years Abroad, and was accepted to attend school down under in New Zealand. Candace has taken this initiative on her own, realizing it is not only going to be a new adventure but a challenge.

It takes people such as Candace and other young individuals to show if you have a dream, then reach for it and move on. She will be attending high school along with 350 other kids and living with a newlywed couple on their dairy farm in New Zealand.

Candace has received great support from the communities in the Mackenzie Delta. She has been supported by organizations such as Brighter Futures, the Gwich'in Tribal Council, and the Inuvik Lion's Club. This type of support and confidence in our young people is very encouraging.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that these types of support mechanisms help not only the individuals, but build up the confidence of the people in the communities, so they can believe that where there is a will, there is a way to take on these initiatives.

Candace's parents, Dean and Annie Smith of Fort McPherson, deserve recognition. They have obviously given Candace the love and support she needed to take on such a venture.

It is this type of parental and community support that is needed to raise children to have a good feeling about themselves, children who are ready to take on the role of representing not only themselves, but also their community.

Candace is a great role model to all young people. It is a wonderful experience to say that it takes a whole community to raise a child. With that, Mr. Speaker, I wish Candace all the best. To Dean and Annie Smith, I would like to acknowledge their efforts in raising Candace. Thank you.

-- Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. Item 3, Members' statements. The Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to briefly address the issue of the long outstanding need for a comprehensive energy strategy for the Northwest Territories. This is an issue I raised repeatedly during the life of the 13th Assembly, and I want to raise it again today. It is a critical issue. There have been some efforts made, but in my opinion nothing substantive has been done.

On Tuesday I posed a written question asking for the costs for the provision of fuel and energy throughout the Northwest Territories for all government services. In my opinion, Mr. Speaker, when those numbers are in, all associated and related costs will show that we spend well over $100 million a year in this particular area.

We have to look at how we use energy, how we get it there, and are we doing it the right way? We have to look at the role of NTPC, our major asset, but also one of the biggest liabilities that we have in terms of the debt that we now run. The rising fuel prices make it incumbent upon us to look at this.

We also have to look at the environmental issues, the Kyoto Agreement. We all have to look at the issue of regulatory reform with the Public Utilities Board as to how we monitor and police the services we provide. Some communities are taking very aggressive, positive steps. Fort Simpson is looking at ways of lowering their energy costs. They believe the steps they have taken can save them 20 percent on the cost of the services.

Mr. Speaker, this also ties in to the resource development that we have, because it is related to energy, oil and gas development. I believe there are significant savings to be realized here. The steps taken in the past with the Energy Alliance, while a baby step forward, have to go beyond ten kilowatts, from changing your light bulbs, which is important, to looking at the broader fundamental structural issues related to the provision of energy.

I would hope this government will pursue this vigorously. I will be raising this issue with the committees and through the business planning process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 3, Members' statements. The Member for Yellowknife South, Mr. Bell.

Brendan Bell

Brendan Bell Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity today to congratulate all of the boys and girls and men and women who will be representing the Northwest Territories at the Arctic Winter Games this March in Whitehorse. I think we can see that Team NWT has a lot of experience and is made up of communities across the North - 15 different communities are represented, Mr. Speaker, for a total of 339 delegates.

This includes athletes, officials, chaperones, and coaches. I think we have 24 different sporting events ranging from things like hockey and volleyball to Arctic sports and Dene games. I would like to congratulate all of the athletes who were successful, as I know this is a very important and valuable experience. I look back at the two Arctic Winter Games I was fortunate enough to participate in and I realize that these are some of my fondest memories growing up in the North. I made a lot of friends that I still know today.

I think you will also find your experience will help you learn valuable life lessons. Lessons like teamwork, how to win graciously, and, at times, how to lose with dignity and sportsmanship. I think these are very important lessons that will serve you well. Good luck, and everyone in the room here today hopes you will bring us back some new, shiny hardware. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Bell. Item 3, Members' statements. The Member for Great Slave, Mr. Braden.

Bill Braden

Bill Braden Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. At the risk of turning this into a sportscast, Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize that this week in Thunder Bay, Ontario, about 260 top junior athletes from across Canada are participating in the Canadian Junior National Cross Country Ski Championships at the Lappe Nordic Ski Club.

The ski team representing the Northwest Territories is composed of Sarah Daitch from Fort Smith and Yellowknifers Starr Stinson and Mike Argue, Seth Lippert, Ella Stinson, and Sheena Trembly. I am pleased to note that Mike, Seth and Sheena are constituents of Great Slave.

The results, after two days of competition, are Mike Argue with a gold medal in the pursuit race and a silver medal in the 15K classic race. Sarah Daitch of Fort Smith has earned a silver medal in the women's 10K classic race. In the overall standings, Mr. Argue is just one point out of first place in the junior men's division.

Mr. Speaker, in the 1970's the majority of the skiers on the Canadian National Team, led by Sharon and Shirley Firth of Inuvik, were from the Northwest Territories. Our colleague for Inuvik Twin Lakes, who represented Canada in international competitions from 1968 to 1972, was also a part of this tradition.

Cross country skiing promotes healthy lifestyles and is enjoyed by many for both pleasure and competition. I am pleased the Northwest Territories is represented by such a strong team. I know the Members here, and in particular the Member for Thebacha, want to join me in wishing our Northwest Territories team well in the remaining races. Mr. Speaker, we should also acknowledge the efforts of the coaches, the officials and the other volunteers who made these results possible for their contribution to a healthy lifestyle for everyone in the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Braden. Item 3, Members' statements. The Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Sandy Lee

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity today to celebrate something very positive going on in the city of Yellowknife, that being the increasing number of Japanese tourists who travel a very long distance to make Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories one of their tour destinations in Canada. This month alone, Mr. Speaker, upwards of 2500 Japanese visitors are expected to visit our city. There are up to 300 of them in the city on any given day, looking up at our sky at night, visiting our shops and eating country food at our local restaurants.

Just last night I was at the Explorer Hotel at 9:00 p.m. and watched two school buses full of the tourists in their familiar red gear heading out into the night to see the northern lights. The sight of them warms my heart. I have also had the occasion last week to talk to the local restaurant operators, who are very happy to have these visitors fill their premises every night in what is otherwise a very slow tourist season.

Last year there were approximately 7000 Japanese visitors, but we are expected to surpass that by a large margin this year, as we have already exceeded that number with two more months left to go in the season.

Mr. Speaker, what we should recognize is that this is not simply an overnight success that happened by accident. A number of local operators have been working very hard for over a decade to perfect this very specialized product. The visiting tourists are catered to take advantage of everything our city and the North have to offer, above and beyond the northern lights, including dog sled rides, snowmobile tours, caribou viewing, snow shoeing and ice-fishing demonstrations.

It should also be recognized that this has been achieved without a lot of assistance from the government, and perhaps even in spite of it. All of the local operators and service businesses should be commended for making this possible.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, not everything about this is positive. If the number of visitors continues to grow at this rate, we will not have enough accommodation space in the city to accommodate them all. And the solution to this is not as simple as building an extra hotel to accommodate them. The demand for accommodation in the city during the summer is not nearly as high as that in the winter. In fact, the number of visitors to the North has experienced a steady decline over the last number of years.

The tourism industry needs the government's action to help develop our summer tourist product.

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Ms. Lee, your time has expired.

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Sandy Lee

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

The Member is seeking unanimous consent to conclude her statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. You may continue, Ms. Lee.

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Sandy Lee

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and colleagues. The tourism industry needs the government's action to help develop our summer tourist product to match our winter product. We need a comprehensive action plan in partnership with all stakeholders.

I appreciate that this government, along with all the Members on this side of the House, will continue to work hard for the next little while to set our priorities on how to get the governance right and how to achieve a healthy economy and healthy people.

As a Member for Yellowknife, I intend to work hard to push for a coordinated and common sense tourism strategy that will benefit the economy of our city and our Territory so that this success story can be shared across many sectors in our economy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Japanese Aurora Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Item 3, Members' statements. The Member for North Slave, Mr. Lafferty.

Leon Lafferty North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to give my Member's statement in my own language.

(Translation starts) Mr. Speaker, today I would like to highlight a concern that constituents throughout the North Slave have brought to my attention. People are very concerned with the medical services available to them at home. While I am sure everyone in this room recognizes the great work done by the Stanton Regional Hospital here in Yellowknife, I am sure many people can also recognize the need for better medical services in their home communities.

In particular, seniors whose health is declining do not wish to leave their families and friends. It is hard for their extended family to make the journey to Yellowknife or Edmonton, especially in the case of a long-term illness. It simply is unaffordable and unrealistic. Therefore, patients miss the care and support that their families and friends can provide.

In the recently released report in the Minister's Forum on Health and Social Services, the panel stated that to help return communities to good health, we need to help them increase control over their lives. Earlier this week, I shared my constituents' overwhelming desire for help with addictions. We want better services in this area and in a number of areas related to health care.

Today, I would like to share with you the big picture of what we hope to achieve in the North Slave. We want to create a more responsive health care system. We want to create a multi-purpose building in Rae which could provide:

  • • Services for mentally challenged people;
  • • Services for people addicted to substances; and
  • • Services for health care.

Ideally, a permanent doctor would be hired and around the clock medical services could be available. This is a big goal and will require time and energy to bring about. It is a worthy goal and one that I am personally committed to working on.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that I am looking forward to working with this government to find ways to make health care more relevant to the people it serves. Thank you. (Translation ends)

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Item 3, Members' statements. The Member for Nunakput, Mr. Steen.