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.

Topics

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1430

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I stand here at the pleasure of the House as the Minister of Health and Social Services. I have the political responsibility to answer to this House on concerns about the system and I accept that responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, my colleagues have made many sweeping generalizations and general condemnation of the health and social services system. They say there's no attention and that we're ignoring the problems. Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge that we do have problems with the health and social services system; that it is a very complex issue affecting every one of the people we represent.

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister, I want to speak in defense of the people who work at the community level in all the communities that provide service in very difficult circumstances and under tremendous pressure. I want to speak in defense of the people at the regional level; of the authorities comprised of local people charged with the responsibility of administering many services, life through death, to the people of the regions that they represent. A representation, Mr. Speaker, that up until a few years ago was not there. I want to speak in defense of the Health and Social Services department and staff who work at this level to provide the service to do the legislation to provide the support to all the people that work down the chain, to the communities, to the frontline workers.

Mr. Speaker, we have a responsibility when we stand in this House. We have the right to say what we will. But making sweeping generalizations and general condemnations is not appropriate and is not accurate and is not fair. Mr. Speaker, in the last two years alone the budget of Health and Social Services has gone up $49 million. The clear majority of that money has gone to the communities. We've added doctors, nurses, mid-wives, long-term care workers, mental health workers and, Mr. Speaker, the plan is to continue that support.

The clear reality is, Mr. Speaker, as a government we know we have far more problems than we have resources, but that does not stop the people in the system that work night and day for their lives and their professions to provide the service to the people. We should always recognize that and keep it in mind. We are victims, as well, of shortages clear across Canada, North America and Europe of doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals. That's a reality. We have to pay dearly for some of the services, I acknowledge that, but they are services that we have no choice but to pay for because we need them for the health of the people.

Mr. Speaker, the reality is, as well, if they doubled the budget of Health and Social Services, the way we're going, within two or three years that would be gone. You cannot escape the issue of personal responsibility and it's not just smoking which drives our costs. Mr. Speaker, as a territory and as a population, we drink too much, we smoke too much, we eat the wrong kind of foods, we don't exercise enough and we tend to be, as a result, overweight. Mr. Speaker, those basic facts, hard as they may be for some people to accept, drive the cost of this health care system to a significant degree. Those are all based on personal choice.

Mr. Speaker, the one most telling example I would like to use is FASD. If we could just convince pregnant mothers not to drink then we could have our children born healthy. That alone would be a tremendous success. We can't stop the efforts to educate the people, to encourage them to make the right personal choices. We can stand in this House today and say we have to keep fixing things after they are broken and we can try to do that, but clearly the system is under tremendous stress and we don't have the resources.

So, Mr. Speaker, the motion is there and I can tell this House that the people in the system worked long and hard and I take this job very seriously and I, as well, worked long and hard trying to do the best that we can in the system to make sure we have the services for the people. We have many things to do and lots of work yet to do. We're going to continue to do that. I stand before this House charged with the serious issue of misconduct and I'd await the direction of the House. Thank you.

---Applause

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1431

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. To the motion. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Kakfwi.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

October 10th, 2003

Page 1431

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a few comments to speak against the motion. I, too, think we should just let people in the communities and all try to do that. I think it's important to know that every Premier across this country, including the federal government, acknowledge that we will never be able to find the money and resources to address the difficulties of health across this country because we simply cannot cover the cost. That is just the cost of most Canadians who need basic health services. The costs are rising and will continue to rise.

In our case, because of our remote situations and because of the rising health conditions of aboriginal people, we have the very difficult situation to address. As the Minister said, I think one thing we can all agree here, if our people stop drinking, if they stop smoking, if they stop committing acts of violence, if they stop breaking the law, this government would be a very healthy government. We would have a lot of money to put to use where we should. The fact is we don't. Because too many of our people smoke too much, they drink too much, there's too many of them in jail, there's too many of them going to court, there's too many of them abandoning, neglecting and abusing children and somehow we have to take responsibility for that. All of us have to take some responsibility for that. It isn't just the Minister. It isn't just the Ministers. It is not just the Cabinet. It's all of us.

To say at the closing days of government that somehow you want to single out a Minister for all the ills that we're suffering is, I think, not acceptable on my part. I don't accept that. We will never be able to take care of people who are not willing or unable to take care of themselves. You can take care of the people who are willing to help, who are willing to take some responsibility. I know we can do that. These problems that I've said before are not that far away. I'm not talking about people who are hundreds of miles away. A lot of us have family members who are suffering from alcoholism or cancer or because of difficulties arising out of smoking. Families who neglect their children. We're not talking about people in far-off communities. We're talking about our own families and we're acutely aware of that.

I ask Members to reject this motion because I don't think it's acceptable. I think we should all take some responsibility for it and realize there are a lot of people out there as well who are willing to do something or taking responsibility for their lives and seeking healthy alternatives. Our people are getting stronger and they can get stronger still. Negative messages like this do not help at all. Thank you.

---Applause

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1431

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. To the motion. The honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, Mr. Roland.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1431

Floyd Roland Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I will not be supporting this motion. Mr. Speaker, we know from around the Territories the serious condition our health care services are in. As a Member for a larger community in the Northwest Territories I know that, for example, the Inuvik Regional Hospital is under a serious situation of having not enough nurses to do things. They've had to cut back on services. We know that, for example, last year there were many centres across the North, some in the Sahtu, some in the Delta, some in Nunakput, I believe one of the communities, had to go on emergency services.

Unfortunately, we find ourselves in that situation. I must applaud the Premier for saying what he said in this forum. Until we as individuals in the Northwest Territories start to take control of what happens to us in our own bodies, we will continually be in a situation of having to go to a government source and request funding or help in that situation.

It is our duty as Members in this House to support the initiatives that would help our residents in the Northwest Territories. As we've just heard, there's been over $49 million put into the system and I, myself, question sometimes where that money goes; if it's just to administration or into actual programs and services. I guess we can show examples of where we're actually putting frontline workers in there and actually increasing the wages of some of those people who are in drug and alcohol facilities.

Now, we, unfortunately, had to deal with in the 13th Assembly, removing some of those services. We used to have in the whole Northwest Territories, when Nunavut was part of this government, five drug and alcohol facilities. We are down to one. So I would say that we must send a message to the next government that they have to look at that seriously. Because as Members stated in this House, there are many problems that revolve around alcoholism in the Northwest Territories.

As the Premier said, we don't have to look very far. I, as well, know the ravages of alcoholism in a family. I've suffered from that myself. If it wasn't for the support of my own family and myself to say I cannot live this way anymore, I would still be where I was before, if I'd be lucky enough to be alive, Mr. Speaker.

This we shouldn't take lightly. I've had the responsibility in the past government to be Minister of Health and Social Services. It is not an easy task to try to balance all the needs across the spectrum that are demanded upon the system. It is not just hospitals and health centres, nurses and doctors. It is everything from foster care to dentists to eye glasses to teeth to funeral services.

Mr. Speaker, it's not an easy task. We stand in this House and try to make government responsive to our communities, especially the smallest ones. I have a lot of relatives in the smallest communities across the North. I hear them. I have right now, for example, an aunt that's having problems with her heart and she lives in Tuktoyaktuk, but she's in Inuvik hospital having to stay there because they're not sure of her condition. I've heard of other people who have had cancer and unfortunately been diagnosed later on. Do we go to the Minister and say he's not doing his job? Do we go to a laboratory facility and say why wasn't this caught in a blood test? Why wasn't a certain test ordered?

Mr. Speaker, some of these things we cannot control ourselves. Even as individuals, we can live the healthiest lives, we can eat the best foods and the finest wines -- or the cheapest wines, if we want -- but, Mr. Speaker, we take control of what enters into our bodies, at least to the direct things of what we eat, drink or smoke. We can't control some of the environmental hazards.

Mr. Speaker, I know as an Inuvialuit and one that's lived off the land to a certain degree, especially with my father and mother, that we now know that some of our own natural foods are contaminated with some chemicals and so on that are not healthy for the human body. We have studies telling us now that northern mothers breastfeeding their children may not be the best thing because of the contaminants in the system that's entered their bodies.

What are we going to do, Mr. Speaker? That's something we have to ask ourselves as a whole. Are we going to direct our government to take the next steps to go forward, or are we going to stand by and fire across at each other continually?

I understand where the Members from the smaller communities are coming from because, yes, they have smaller health centres. They're on reduced services. Nurses can't fill the positions. It comes to how our community deals with these situations, how we invite some of our professionals in the community or how we uninvited them. Sometimes, as much as we deal with these individuals, how we deal with them makes them uncomfortable and they don't feel safe in those communities.

We have children now at a younger age involved in drug and alcohol activities more than ever before in the Northwest Territories. What do we do? Well, sometimes we call Social Services. Sometimes we call the RCMP. Sometimes we call a Member of the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Speaker, as a parent, I know that if my children start to run into problems, I better start looking at myself and dealing with my family first because I know I don't want Social Services involved with my family. I've seen what happens to families that become involved. Unfortunately, it seems to be a very adversarial situation.

So although the Members here mean well, and I do believe they mean well by putting this motion out, I think it is unfortunate that we are dealing with it in this manner. Members felt that they've addressed this time and again with the Minister and, unfortunately, yes, we're in the dying days of this government. That's probably not the best way of putting it, but we are in fact in a situation where some of them are riding off into the sunset. Some are seeking a new life and rebirth into the 15th Assembly. We will still have these problems. If some of us are not fortunate enough to return here, the next Members will still have to deal with those problems. We know that the next government is not in a very good financial situation to be dealing with these situations to continue to try to find more money.

We have to ask ourselves, if we're going to support this motion or those that are going to support this, what do we really want to do and what areas are we going to move it from? We do have that authority. Where do we move the money of this government? Unfortunately, this is our last day, so we can't keep any more pressure up on government to say make some changes.

Based on that, Mr. Speaker, maybe I've said too much, but I felt that knowing the situations and how I might be from one of the larger communities, but I have relatives in smaller communities. Inuvik wasn't so big many years ago. I've lived through the mud and grime of a small community where you burned your garbage in the front of your driveway.

We've come so far, yet we have such a long distance to go. We've made many advances, but there's still much journey to make and it's going to be difficult. We're going to have to, I think, instead of doing this, call on the next government to say we have to set some priorities. How are we going to deal with these situations? Are we going to put an absolute minimum, as we heard, about universality? Yes, if we look at the acts of this government and the establishments of some of these departments, some of those things are going to have to change.

We heard some Members say that's the reason the land claims groups and aboriginal groups are looking for self-government, because they think they can do it better than the Northwest Territories government. Maybe they can. The Government of the Northwest Territories hasn't been a perfect instrument and it will continue to have its growing pains. I must say that we have to look at it from a different perspective than what this motion would present. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1432

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Roland. To the motion. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1432

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to speak briefly to this motion as well. I cannot support this motion. I want to say that I do understand the frustration of the Members who have raised this motion with the problems that they see existing in their communities. It isn't just the small communities that are faced with these problems, it's also other communities. We've had similar problems ongoing from generation to generation in communities like Hay River.

It's been brought out that we have to take personal responsibility for some of these problems. Not only in our own lives, Mr. Speaker, but I'd like to take that one step further. There is no amount of money in this world big enough to solve some of the problems that we face that seem insurmountable here in the North.

I'd like to suggest to the people who have overcome difficulties and, by the grace of God, live healthy lives in this territory, we not only have a responsibility to our own family and the ones that we love, but we also have a responsibility to those in our communities who we see are in need, where it's within our power to step into that need and to assist them and to help them.

I think this came up at a constituency meeting of mine the other day. There are not enough programs, there are not enough services, there's not enough money, the government is not spending enough money. Mr. Speaker, there will never be enough programs, services and money, but each one of us has it in our power the ability to help people we see around us. It doesn't take a lot of extra time out of your day to make a phone call to check on people, to see how they're doing, to encourage people, to take them into your home for a meal, to show hospitality, to share your own life's experience with people.

I would like to suggest that each one of us, I'm not talking about just the Members of this House, but each one of us who call ourselves a member of any community of any society, have an obligation to help people who are in need on a personal basis. Over the years, somehow we've gone from helping our neighbours to saying it's the government's problem and the government will solve it all.

It's not an easy task, I recognize, for the Minister. I've been in that same position and it's not an easy task to try and spread the resources and address all of the problems, but I think each one of us needs to do our part not only for our own lives, but for those we see in need around us. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1433

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. To the motion. The honourable Member for Hay River North, Mr. Delorey.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1433

Paul Delorey Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to say a brief few words against this motion. I personally could not stand here and support this motion. I have to think back over the last week or so in what's been happening in the House and as a Member of this government, the territorial government, I am very concerned about what we are doing to our government. I, for one, would not like to see this government be reduced to any less than what it should be: a full, strong public government that we're working collectively to the benefit of all the people of the Northwest Territories.

I don't agree with everything that is happening around here. I agree with the Members from the small communities that there are lots of issues that they have and want to address. Not only in Health and Social Services, in every department. It is a concern. It is a concern for everybody. It was a concern of mine when I was growing up in a small community in Nova Scotia. The same problems existed. The small communities, the rural communities, how do you get the same services in the small communities that you get in a big city? I don't know how you do that.

We can all work together to try and find solutions and bring those issues to a resolution, but for me to stand and point the finger at one individual, I just can't do that, Mr. Speaker. If I wanted to find a reason to support a motion of censure against the honourable Minister of Health and Social Services, I could probably find reasons over the last four years that would help me to make a decision to maybe do that. But when we're dealing with how we address the people of the Northwest Territories and how we bring them good services, I agree with a lot of the comments that were made about what problems we have and what causes those problems. I, as well as the Members from the small communities, have stood in this House and said how frustrating it is to have our mothers have to travel outside of Hay River to come to Yellowknife or Edmonton to give birth.

The reality is we can only do so much. It is a problem. Not just in the North, not just in the small communities, it's a problem right across the country. As we hear on TV and see in the newspapers, the Ministers of Health gather together and collectively they are trying to find solutions to these problems. But they are not easy problems to deal with.

I think that collectively I am looking for another four years in this government. I certainly want to be thinking that I'm coming back to a government that is effective for the Territories and that is a strong government. If we can't do it collectively as a strong government, we are certainly not going to do it by pointing the finger at individuals when everything goes wrong.

So, Mr. Speaker, I will not be supporting this motion and I hope that Members take that seriously when they decide to vote on this motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1433

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Delorey. To the motion. The honourable Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1433

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd just like to make a short comment and to say that I will not be supporting this motion. Mr. Speaker, like I said in my statement earlier, when Members in this House go at it very strongly against a Minister or are pushing a Minister, I think people out there might think that some of us have something personally against a Minister. A lot of that has been said about me because I know that I've had my matches with Mr. Miltenberger and I've been often asked by media or anybody who listens to us if I'm going to ask for his head, and so on.

Mr. Miltenberger came and talked to me about this motion. Mr. Speaker, I oppose this motion for many reasons. One is that...I should just finish that thought. I am willing to go hard on the Minister to ask him to do his job. But asking for his resignation or censuring him is not an answer. I do believe, Mr. Speaker, seeing myself from Yellowknife, I do believe he has pushed really hard to meet the needs of small communities. There's no question that there's a lot that we have not been able to do.

I can understand that people in the communities are thinking that their services are not improving or maybe even deteriorating, but I do believe it is a responsibility of all of us. It's really a question that I think the next Assembly needs to look at seriously. It is the emergence of the disparity or difference of services and programs being provided to Yellowknife versus small communities.

Any Yellowknife Members here can tell you that we get calls from our people who are saying that it seems like Yellowknife, with the biggest population and as the capital city that it is, is not getting the attention from this government. So we seem to have sort of discontent on both sides. People cannot understand why Yellowknife, with the size that it is, only has two ice pads. Or with the taxes they're paying, why are their programs less than such?

I know that I've travelled across the Territories and I can totally appreciate how the people in the communities feel that they are not getting the basic services they need or they should get a lot more than what they have. Certainly it's a task for all of us.

I don't think censuring a Minister on the last day and putting everything on his shoulders is really being responsible, frankly. I do respect the Members here to make a statement and the Members especially from small communities to show their frustration at the lack of action. But I don't believe the motion is the way to go.

I agree totally with what the Minister said about individual responsibility. There's a lot of room there for us to improve on. But there's no question, as a government and as an Assembly, we have not moved as far as we can on the social agenda. I know the Minister has been working very hard on a health care plan. We have had so many studies in the last three years, once again, I think we might have studied more on issues than acted upon.

I do believe and I know that it's the eve of the election, but I am not afraid of taking my share of the responsibility for the stuff that we have not been able to achieve for the people. We have had lots of agendas, but there's no question in my mind that if there ever was a Minister that really worked hard to take things away from Yellowknife and put it into communities, that is Mr. Miltenberger.

---Laughter

I'll give you that. Much of my fight had to do with stopping him because that would be my job to do it.

So I hope I'm making myself clear. I think it's a question about small communities versus big communities. It's a challenge for many governments to come to address. It's about how much of the total budget we had that we spent on health and social services and our social problems that we have.

The increasing money that's flowing in Yellowknife is considered to be one of the causes for lots of social problems that we are having in the city, and the residents are getting more engaged in that debate. So I believe that this is an issue much bigger than the Minister himself...

---Laughter

...so, for that reason...

---Laughter

...bigger than the Minister's power. So I'm not going to support this motion, but I do respect the arguments being put forward by the Members for North Slave and Mackenzie Delta. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1434

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Ms. Lee. To the motion. The honourable for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Ootes.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1434

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, from my experience of being Cabinet Minister and also having served on the other side of the House, it's my opinion that the most difficult department to run in this government is the Department of Health and Social Services. There are lots and lots and lots of challenges out there for us to address, and I appreciate what the Members are saying. There's no question that we have to tackle them. But you know, Mr. Speaker, the issues out there, we need to do more than just be a government addressing these issues. We need community governments to address this, we need community leaders to address this issue. Because the issues out there, the expenditures are being made in many areas, such as have been referenced because of smoking, because of alcohol. We've got children raising children, and obesity and people not exercising. Those are the issues, Mr. Speaker, and there needs to be more and more debate.

You know in my eight years in this House, I can probably check Hansard and count maybe two or three times when we've seriously discussed this issue, the issue of social lifestyles. That's what's at the bottom of this. How do we address the expenditure that's being made in the whole area of health? Because it's getting out of control, Mr. Speaker, and it always will until we change our lifestyles and address that whole area.

The system is, no doubt, under stress. We know we have a large territory with many, many communities, and that's expensive to operate. Therefore, it's hard to place proper facilities in each community to the extent that's being requested. That creates a tremendous difficulty, Mr. Speaker. This is the largest government for dollars, however, Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate what the Members are saying who moved this motion, I feel the condemnation of the Minister and his department are totally misdirected in this. But for the grace of God, there go I. It could be any one of us here if that attitude is taken at the moment that something isn't provided, okay, put a motion before the House of non-confidence in the Minister. I understand the frustrations and I compliment the Members for at least saying that they're frustrated, but I don't think condemning the Minister is the answer for that, Mr. Speaker, and I will definitely vote against it. Thank you.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1434

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. To the motion. There are no other Members speaking to the motion. Mr. Krutko, you may close the debate.

Motion 21-14(6): Censure Of The Minister Of Health And Social Services, Defeated
Item 16: Motions

Page 1434

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as you can see from the presentations we heard around the table, it's pretty clear that the have and have not communities don't realize what it's like to have a community where you can't have access to your health centre, you don't have access to service providers like alcohol and drug counsellors or mental health workers. You guys can all sit on that side of the House and just say quit smoking, quit drinking, snap your fingers, it will go away. It will not happen.

The problem we have in our small communities is economically and socially stimulated because we don't have an economic base, not like the luxury of large centres where this government basically runs those communities. I think it's important without these programs and services, you will not have healthy communities, you will not have healthy people to cope with the stresses of the day-to-day things in small communities and being in some cases homeless and in most cases unemployed, living on income support, living in social housing. That's the stem of the problem of this Government of the Northwest Territories. Yet the bureaucracy of this government continues to grow.

Since we got here four years ago, the only thing that has grown in this government's budget is the bureaucracy. I think as responsible Members on both sides of this House, we have to take some responsibilities as ordinary Members, too. We have brought up supplementary appropriations where we rant and rave and question it going through the House, but at the end of the day we vote them out.

Mr. Speaker, my motion is clear. My motion is directed in regard to programs and services delivered in small communities which at this time are nil in some communities. We have emergency services only being provided in some communities right now. We have people who basically are being diagnosed at the regional hospital because they took it on their own to get to the regional hospital, later to be diagnosed and medevaced to Edmonton at a cost which could have been a lot less if that person was diagnosed in the community before they had to make it on their own to a regional hospital. Those are the costs that you keep talking about. Health care costs will continue to go up. Yes, they'll continue to go up because in small communities a large portion of that cost is medevacs out of our communities because we don't have the basic programs to diagnose and assess these problems before they become so-called medical emergencies. That's where the costs of this government are going.

For the Minister to put the onus on the so-called frontline workers, it's not the frontline workers that are ultimately responsible to ensure that those programs and services are being delivered in the communities. He has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that the standards and the mission of this government is being carried out, to promote, protect and provide health and well-being programs to people in the Northwest Territories. That's your responsibility as a Minister. When you have closures in our communities every summer going on for four or five years and it continues to go on, you are responsible.

Mr. Speaker, as we can see from the motion around the table and the comments that were made, this is definitely a situation that we in small communities find ourselves frustrated because we know nothing is going to change in this government. So maybe it is good we're going to the polls for an election, so we can maybe get some new Ministers in there and new people in this House that really understand the problems in our small communities. Because in large communities you don't have to cope with the frustration of having your children taken away by social services and not having an appeal process to go to, or not having the ability to take your family and your children to counselling because you don't have counsellors in our communities. You have people in our communities who have diabetes and other health problems that aren't able to access the programs that are being offered in other communities. You have nutritional programs for people in the regional centre, nutritional services are being provided in regional centres where you can talk to a nutritionist, you have programs in regard to family counselling. In Yellowknife you can walk down the street and walk into somebody's office and have that service provided. If you want a dentist you basically go down the street and make an appointment. If you want to go see a doctor, you phone one of the clinics here in Yellowknife or in the other centres and you can go see a doctor. In our communities that luxury does not apply. You're lucky to see a doctor once a month, if that, if you're able to get on the list. With the dentist, you're lucky to see him twice a year and you're limited on what they can do once they get there.

So I think that what the comments were from the Members on the opposite side saying that everything is hunky-dory and don't worry, everything is taken care of, I can't agree with. I feel that this government has a responsibility to ensure that programs and services that are being provided are universally provided across the board.

If we have programs that aren't filled, every effort should be made to get those positions out there and advertise and ensure that those people are in place.

I would just like to refer to a comment that was made with regard to not being responsible by making this motion. For me, not making this motion basically tells me I'm just going to bow to the normal process and not say anything and just let it continue. I can't do that. I personally cannot stand here and say that everything is rosy out there, because it isn't. The Minister knows it from the comments I made in the last week and from the correspondence that I've been sending back and forth to the Minister's office, that this problem is there, it is affecting people's health and well- being, and in most cases has caused grief to a lot of families. I think as a government we are responsible.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make it clear that knowing this motion will not be passed with the numbers that are out there, but this will not go away. I hope for those people who are running in this next election and running in those small communities, that this be one of their top priorities coming into this House in the 15th Legislative Assembly. The comments we hear around this table and for people who don't have to deal with closures, it's not a problem. But for people that do, it's definitely a problem. That's the frustrating part of the have and have not society we live in.

At least when we were part of the 13th Assembly where we had the whole Northwest Territories, we could relate to all the other communities because we had a majority in this House. Now basically because of the division of the Northwest Territories, we are definitely feeling the effects of that division on our small communities being fairly treated by the Government of the Northwest Territories and other larger centres in the Northwest Territories.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for a recorded vote and thank those Members for supporting the motion.