This is page numbers 1397 - 1454 of the Hansard for the 14th Assembly, 6th 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 tlicho.

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Appreciation For Colleagues, Constituency Assistant And Family
Item 3: Members' Statements

October 10th, 2003

Page 1405

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this being the last day of session for the 14th Assembly, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in this House for the pleasure of having worked with them for the past four years. As I've said before, it's a very unique working environment. We've spent a lot of time together. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't. But we attempt to maintain a high level of decorum so that everyone can express themselves and feel that their input is valued and heard.

At the end of the day, we are all here for the same reason. We want to ensure the best outcomes for our constituents and the people of the North, where our decisions, programs and services impact on their lives. In that sense, it's an awesome responsibility.

I would like to thank my constituents in Hay River for allowing me this opportunity to be their voice in this legislature and I know that they expect me to do this to the best of my ability and I trust that I have done that.

I would like to thank my awesome constituency assistant, Wendy Morgan, for all of her help and support. I would also like to thank my honourable colleague from Hay River North. I supported his bid for this job. He is my MLA. I voted for him and I have not been disappointed.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank my family: my husband, Rick, who's here today; my children, Jordan and his wife Kathleen, my son Jeffrey and his wife Kandace, and my very opinionated and ever-active daughter Jillian. As our children grow up and pass different milestones like graduations and weddings, it's a reality check for us and a stark reminder that time marches on. Jillian was in Grade 1 when I was elected the first time and now she's in Grade 9. By the way, Mr. Speaker, might I say she's serving her third consecutive year as class president. I've had serious competition for willpower with her, but I think that Mommy is still the boss.

As we watch our family grow it gives us cause to reflect on the choices that we've made and the choices that we will continue to make in the future. Life is precious and time is valuable and I'm always conscious of an admonition of my late father. One of them was, let's make the day count for something. In other words, get up and get to work. Even though we won't always fully understand or realize all the consequences of our decisions or our work until we're some ways down the road, I'm thankful for the privilege that I've had of representing Hay River and working for my constituents. Working in this environment and in this capacity is not something that I would trade and I hope to be back.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to just quickly conclude my statement.

Appreciation For Colleagues, Constituency Assistant And Family
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1405

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you. The honourable Member seeking unanimous consent to conclude her Member's statement. Are there any nays? There are no nays. You may conclude your statement, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Appreciation For Colleagues, Constituency Assistant And Family
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1405

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss today if I did not also thank God for all of his blessings. Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, any skill or talent that we have we can thank Him for. I would like to end my statement with a verse from the Bible which answers the question of what was required of Israel at the time. Michael was a prophet and he said, "He has showed you, oh, Man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." This is my prayer for myself and for our government: to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Appreciation For Colleagues, Constituency Assistant And Family
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1405

The Speaker Tony Whitford

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

Education And Training For Northerners
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1405

Brendan Bell Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thought today about issues I might like to highlight in my last Member's statement. I think for me it was an easy choice. I wanted to again remind us of our challenge and that is to ensure that we can do everything we can for the people of the Northwest Territories in terms of education and training.

It's no secret that many of the discussions we've had as a legislature have been difficult. They've been tough discussions, but they've been about the sense that there's a growing disparity between the have and the have-not communities of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that more than anything education and training can be the great equalizer. I think that if our education system across the Territories is successful then opportunities will open up for everyone. Yesterday I mentioned the program south of the border, the bill, Leave No Child Behind. I think our education system has to leave no community behind.

---Applause

I think, Mr. Speaker, we did a good job as an Assembly. When we started we put a lot of money into the pupil/teacher ratio. I'm proud of that, but I think we can do more especially in terms of student supports, Mr. Speaker. I also believe that if there was an area that we've fallen short of in education, it certainly, I think, is in terms of trades and apprenticeship. We did have much discussion about the need to meet the opportunities for jobs that are becoming more and more available in the Territories, but we really need to look at our priorities and, I believe, spend more effort encouraging young people to enter this area of employment and ensure that we put the resources there so that our young people across the Territories can get training.

Mr. Speaker, speaking of resources, another program that I think we seriously need to improve is our student financial assistance. It has come some way and four years ago I remember discussions about student financial assistance, if you can believe it, not recognizing distance learning. We are there now, but we need to continue to improve its flexibility. I've had constituents come to me who wanted to go to cooking school, take real estate training, financial services training and our program simply didn't meet them half way, Mr. Speaker. It seemed to be more concerned that they were attending a typical university program in the South, two semesters a year, a certain number of hours a day. Mr. Speaker, we have to get out of that mindset so that we can meet the needs of all of our residents. I certainly hope the next government will make that a priority. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Education And Training For Northerners
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1406

The Speaker Tony Whitford

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

Significance Of The NWT Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1406

Bill Braden Great Slave

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. The tourism industry, as Mr. Dent has talked about earlier today and I've talked about on a number of other occasions, is one of our quiet strengths, Mr. Speaker. I, too, want to recognize the significance of the contribution that we just approved that will go into the Japanese market. I will also be levering significant funds from the national government, the Government of Canada, in recognition of how important this is.

Tourism is one of those magic industries, Mr. Speaker, that spreads itself across our economy. It's been estimated that a dollar spent by a tourist is a new dollar that comes in and it makes its way up to seven times across the restaurants, the taxis, everyone who provides a product.

We need to be aggressive, not only to win the tourism market share, but to keep it. Mr. Speaker, the ecotourism and cultural tourism sectors really are the ways of the future. This fall, I had the pleasure of experiencing three days on the Barren Lands about 300 miles east of Yellowknife to enjoy and experience and sample this rare and this wonderful product that we have out there. It went far beyond just looking at the magnificent natural wildlife of the caribou and muskox, but there was tremendous evidence there of the Dene culture and the trapping from the early days.

I was very interested, Mr. Speaker, to talk to the other guests who were there, mostly American, to find out why they wanted to be here. Well, besides their passion for photography or the wilderness, Mr. Speaker, they like Canada -- of course they like our dollar compared to theirs -- and they like our style. Our tourism product is a great strength. It gives us diversity. The operators and the owners who believe in it, who have invested in it, are passionate about it. I'm very pleased to see that at least on this occasion we were able to match that with some investment.

Mr. Speaker, I seek consent to conclude my statement.

Significance Of The NWT Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1406

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you. The honourable Member is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his Member's statement. Are there any nays? There are no nays. You may conclude your statement, Mr. Braden.

Significance Of The NWT Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1406

Bill Braden Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, this industry is worth protecting. It is worth investing in. It is worth growing in. I would like to wish the members of the industry and the people in our government and other communities and organizations who work in the industry, all the success this coming winter season and next season and at their annual convention in Inuvik in November. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Significance Of The NWT Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1406

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Steen.

Appreciation For Colleagues, Staff And Family
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1406

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning. Mr. Speaker, as this may be the last day for the Members of the 14th Assembly in this House, I wish to thank you and all my colleagues for your cooperation and understanding while serving as a Member representing Nunakput and all residents of the Northwest Territories. I wish to thank the Clerk and his staff for their assistance over the years. Mr. Speaker, I could not do the job I have over the past four years without the professional assistance of my executive assistant Kat Nicholson; my constituency assistant in Tuktoyaktuk, Lena Kotokak; and, my executive secretary here in Yellowknife, Judy Payne. Thanks to them all. I must not forget to thank my summer student assistant, Amanda Nasogaluak. I wish to acknowledge, Mr. Speaker, the cooperation I received from community leaders in Nunakput.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a productive four years, in my opinion. Time seemed to fly because we have been so busy. Will I be back, Mr. Speaker? I don't know. I do know I will let my name stand for re-election. With the support of my voters in Nunakput, I could be back.

Mr. Speaker, a big thank you to my wife and partner, Betty, and to all my family for their endless understanding of my absence from the dinner table at home.

Mr. Speaker, a happy Thanksgiving to you, my colleagues, and everyone back home. I hope to see them all soon. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Appreciation For Colleagues, Staff And Family
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1406

The Speaker Tony Whitford

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

GNWT Daycare Subsidy Program
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1406

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier today the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment outlined the accomplishments of the department and I acknowledge that happily. I don't want to take anything away from that, Mr. Speaker.

At the same time, I know he will continue to work diligently on his portfolio until the last day, even when all of us are out there doing something else. So I wish to highlight something I need to look at, which I have mentioned in this House before, and that has to do with improving the government's daycare subsidy program and how it's applied to a licensed daycare home.

Mr. Speaker, a licensed day home is a small home-based operation that is just a little bit bigger than a regular babysitting service where the operator is allowed to have up to eight children and up to six of them of preschool age. Currently, Mr. Speaker, the government subsidizes $28 per child per day, while the going market rate is $35. Once they're billed, the government often takes months and months to pay their bills. In the meantime, these operators are expected to pay for these children and carry the cost until they are paid. This is not a fair practice, Mr. Speaker. I would suggest that the subsidy should be increased to at least meet the market rate. Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, I am advised that these clients on subsidy are cut off for whatever reason and often no notice is given to the operator. The operators usually expect a 30-day notice from any other parents that bring their children. The operator is then left out in the cold without ability to fill the spot because she or he was given no notice. No business would be expected to operate under these conditions, Mr. Speaker.

I would suggest to the government that the government consider reserving spots for a daycare subsidy or at least pay for the duration of notice. Mr. Speaker, the important point here is that the daycare program is a much needed service and there's not enough of it. The daycare subsidy program is one small thing the government is doing and it's a good thing. It's just that it should be done better.

Mr. Speaker, daycare operators will be less and less willing to take the children on daycare subsidy unless the situation is improved. I do believe that the Minister believes in the importance of this program and that he will work until the last day to improve it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

GNWT Daycare Subsidy Program
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1407

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Ootes.

Appreciation For Colleagues, Staff, Constituents And Family
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1407

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I spoke in June with my reply to the Opening Address, so I appreciate being able to use two-and-a-half minutes here to express my thank yous and thoughts of my eight-and-a-half years in political life.

Mr. Speaker, I told my colleagues how far we have come in the time I have been a witness to the evolution of political life in the Northwest Territories, some 40 years. In 1964, the Eastern Arctic didn't have political representation and that area is Nunavut today. Today we have the Tlicho bill before us and what remarkable progress we've made, Mr. Speaker. Even in those early days, the representation was from appointed Members from southern Canada, so we have evolved tremendously. For me. Mr. Speaker, the past 50 years of my working life here has been as a civil servant, as a business person, and they've been exciting and interesting and a fabulous life for me, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take an opportunity to thank my staff who have worked with me over the past four years so diligently, some have come recently. I would like to acknowledge my EA, Evan Walz, who is in the gallery today; Kathy Wind, my secretary; Pearl Benyk, my CA; and, I would also like to thank them for their tremendous support that they've provided to me over the four years. Of course, it's been an honour for me to represent the constituency of Yellowknife Centre and I thank my constituents.

Of course, the most important thank you I leave to my wife, Margaret, who's been my supporter and, like Mr. Steen, I have missed many a day for supper and that's sometimes hard to take for people who support us, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say hello to my son, Luke, who today is a geologist with this government and I am sure he'll enjoy his life here in the Northwest Territories. In December, I will leave public life, Mr. Speaker, and I will devote myself until the last day diligently and totally dedicated. Then I will go on to my next hurrah in the North here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause