This is page numbers 131 - 159 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 1st 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 work.

Topics

Mr. Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Ms. Bisaro, Mr. Bromley, Hon. Paul Delorey, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Hawkins, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Krutko, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Sandy Lee, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Michael McLeod, Mr. McLeod, Mr. Menicoche, Hon. Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Ramsay, Hon. Floyd Roland, Hon. Norman Yakeleya

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good morning, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Orders of the day. Ministers’ statements. Honourable Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 9-16(1): Remote Community Wind Energy Conference
Item 2: Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, for the past several years we have been measuring the strength and steadiness of the winds in Beaufort-Delta communities. This was done in collaboration with the Aurora Research Institute and the Government of Canada.

The data collected to date shows the feasibility of this technology. We must now work with communities to determine how best to proceed towards establishing wind generation in remote High Arctic communities. This topic, along with others, is being discussed in detail at the Wind Energy Conference in Tuktoyaktuk this week.

More than 100 delegates are attending the conference. About half the delegates are representing Beaufort-Delta communities, which are home to the most promising wind resources.

Delegates from Alaska and Atlantic Canada are sharing their experiences and successes integrating wind energy into diesel electric systems in several small communities.

Mr. Speaker, this remote wind conference provides a great opportunity to develop long-term strategies, synergies and partnerships. It is bringing together community and business leaders, government officials, and technical experts on wind-diesel systems.

The conference will assist in educating community decision-makers on wind energy opportunities and options, and in building a strong knowledge base about the potential of wind-diesel systems. It will assist in establishing Tuktoyaktuk as a hub to initiate the development of remote wind power and to gain the expertise and practical knowledge required to do this. Other Beaufort-Delta communities can benefit from the knowledge developed in Tuktoyaktuk as they move ahead with their own plan to incorporate wind power.

This conference has captured a lot of attention and media interest. A report will be developed on the results of the conference, which I will share with Members at our next session in February 2008.

Mr. Speaker, given the increasing price of conventional fuels and concerns about climate change, we need to be innovative and find new ways to use renewable resources. We are committed to this process, and this conference will help to move us in that direction.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank those who have contributed to making this conference a reality. While the list of participants and sponsors for this event is long, I would like, in particular, to thank the Territorial Wind Energy Committee as well as the hamlet, administration, and the entire community of Tuktoyaktuk. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 9-16(1): Remote Community Wind Energy Conference
Item 2: Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Yakeleya.

Minister's Statement 10-16(1): National Safe Driving Week / Drive Alive Initiative
Item 2: Ministers’ Statements

Sahtu

Norman Yakeleya Minister of Transportation

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise in the House today to inform Members that next week, December 1st to 7th , is National

Safe Driving Week across Canada. The first week of December is designated annually as a time to recognize and acknowledge the need to drive safely over the coming holiday season and throughout the entire year. It is also a time to reflect on the progress we have made on improving driver safety here in the Northwest Territories.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has accomplished much to improve the safety of the travelling public. These included the reconstruction of road surfaces, the Strategy to Reduce Impaired Driving Initiative and other awareness campaigns related to bison collisions and snowmobile safety, to name but a few. These have all contributed to dramatic reductions in collisions over the past few years. According to the 2006 Traffic Collision Facts Report, which will soon be released, collisions in 2006 were reduced by 16.8 percent over the previous year. Collisions involving alcohol were reduced by 15.7 percent and, as a result of factors such as the increased use of seatbelts and helmets, collisions resulting in injuries were reduced by 40.4 percent from the previous year.

However, Mr. Speaker, much more can, and must, be done to improve driver safety in the NWT. While collision numbers are down, many of the collisions that did occur could have been prevented. Everyone can take steps to reduce their risk of collision, injury, and death on the highways, trails and frozen waterways of the Northwest Territories.

To help improve driver safety, I am very proud to announce that the department is launching a new consolidated road safety campaign called Drive Alive!

This initiative will maximize the effectiveness of each driver safety program in the NWT by reinforcing common key safety messages. Drive Alive! will serve as a "brand" to reinforce the public information component of the Department of Transportation's road safety framework.

Drive Alive! aims to inform the public of ways in which they can improve their own safety through clear, coordinated, and concise safety messages which will help raise public awareness of road safety issues. The Drive Alive! initiative will promote partnerships and collaborations to increase the scope and effectiveness of road safety campaigns and to leverage additional resources.

Mr. Speaker, in a sparsely populated region such as the Northwest Territories, where distances are great and the environment is harsh, driver safety is an essential element for survival. While I'm confident that all the Members here today drive with caution, I'll use this opportunity to reinforce some of the key messages of Drive Alive!:

Reduce speed, and drive according to conditions;

Prepare for the unexpected;

Maintain and use safety equipment, particularly helmets and seatbelts; and

Driving deserves your full attention; do not drive while impaired, while talking on a cell phone and minimize driver distractions.

Mr. Speaker, I invite and encourage Members of this Assembly and the public to use this special week as an opportunity to learn more about safe driving. In the coming week, I will make some additional announcements to kick off Drive Alive! These will be the first of many planned throughout the year.

I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season. I encourage Members and all motorists to keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road, and their minds on driving safely. Mahsi cho.

Minister's Statement 10-16(1): National Safe Driving Week / Drive Alive Initiative
Item 2: Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 11-16(1): Ongoing Commitment To The Public Housing Rental Subsidy
Item 2: Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I wish to advise Members of ongoing work in the administration of the Public Housing Rental Subsidy Program, PHRS.

As Members are aware, the 15th Legislative Assembly

placed an emphasis on helping northerners to move forward on self-reliance. The income security policy framework was developed in 2005 to help us move in this direction and to provide a coordinated approach to the delivery of programs and services. As part of the larger income security reform project, in April 2006, administrative responsibilities for the Public Housing Rental Subsidy Program were transferred from the NWT Housing Corporation to the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. The primary objective of placing all subsidies under one department was to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all residents, and increase

awareness of, and access to, the programs and services that support self-reliance.

Like any large-scale transfer of this magnitude, there have been some challenges for all parties involved. These challenges include establishing new relationships between tenants, ECE and local housing organizations, ensuring sufficient cash flows for local housing organizations, training staff for new responsibilities and helping clients adapt to new administrative procedures.

A number of actions were taken during and since the transfer of the PHRS to mitigate challenges. Tenants were provided with information on the change in administrative arrangements for the program, and income security officers adjusted their monthly schedule to meet with tenants applying for the subsidies and have adapted flexible schedules to accommodate the varying income levels of tenants throughout the year. Training has been provided for income security officers so they could effectively and efficiently administer the PHRS Program. A Public Housing Rental Subsidy Steering Committee made up of representatives from Education, Culture and Employment, the NWT Housing Corporation and the local housing organizations was formed to provide ongoing support and guidance on the administration of the program. Policies for the program inherited from the NWT Housing Corporation have been retained to help people with the transition. ECE also continues to cash flow the PHRS to the NWT Housing Corporation to help the LHOs meet their operating costs, and cash flow has been adjusted to address vacancy rates.

Since the transfer of the program, there have been a number of other actions taken. The assessment period for income was shortened from two months to one month; data collection processes have been developed to improve the monitoring and reporting of Public Housing Rental Subsidy information; and condition ratings of public housing units have been updated to allow eligible tenants to receive a reduction in rent based on the condition of their unit.

There are a number of challenges that require further work to ensure the program works smoothly for all parties, including clients, local housing organizations, the NWT Housing Corporation and ECE. For example, more work is needed to implement the government service centres that support the delivery of income security programs, including the PHRS Program, in a number of communities. Ongoing work is needed to develop and establish relationships between tenants and the income security officers so assessments can be completed in a timely basis to avoid tenants building up unnecessary arrears with the LHOs. Different clients have varying needs when they access income security programs from the government to fulfill their aspirations. As such, we need to ensure our program supports can be flexible to meet the needs of different client groups such as seniors who may need different support systems.

Where possible, we also need to identify ways to streamline procedures and systems for the program to operate smoothly.

To address the challenges that remain and to ensure quality service in this area, Education, Culture and Employment and the NWT Housing Corporation have initiated a review of the Public Housing Rental Subsidy Program. Regional consultations have begun with staff,

tenants and interested key stakeholders, and the program will be reviewed in light of the new income security model. Additional issues may be defined through this process that will need to be addressed.

I look forward to sharing the results of this review with you in the next sitting of the Legislative Assembly in February 2008 and the plan of action being taken to address the issues in our ongoing commitment to making improvements for the Public Housing Rental Subsidy. I also look forward to hearing from Members about how we can make improvements that support the needs of northerners, respecting their need for support and their desire for self-reliance.

In the meantime, we acknowledge that there are definite challenges that need to be overcome. I’m sure that with a collaborative approach between all parties involved, we can achieve a suitable and workable solution. This can only be achieved by using a team approach. I, therefore, look forward to working with all Members of this House to assist in improving the program, as it affects every community in the NWT. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister’s Statement 11-16(1): Ongoing Commitment To The Public Housing Rental Subsidy
Item 2: Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Ministers’ statements. Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Day Care Issues In The NWT
Item 3: Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to comment on the state of day care in the NWT. During our discussions over the last few weeks, many Members have expressed concern about the lack of day care in our communities. Some communities are unfortunate enough to have absolutely none. There is a number of issues that plague our day cares in the NWT: low wages for workers, lack of funding for day cares, lack of adequate labour force, lack of affordable day care, staff recruitment and retention issues. The list could go on for a long time.

In the NWT, we do have programs to assist day cares either to help them get established or subsidies to help them stay in operation. Those programs are appreciated, Mr. Speaker, but they are not adequate and they do not provide the level and the quality of day care that our territory needs.

Recently, the Yellowknife Day Care closed its doors for a day due to extreme staff shortages. As a result, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment advised the day care that the number of children using the facility had to be reduced until staffing levels could be increased. The day care chose to implement a schedule denying children access to day care one day at a time on a rotating basis. That decision certainly makes sense from a safety point of view, but under the current ECE subsidy program, this creates a huge difficulty for the day care. The daily per child subsidy supplied by ECE is based on whether or not the child is in attendance. It has nothing to do with whether the child is a full or part-time subscriber. If the child is sick, stays home with Mom or Dad to get better and does not go to the day care for the day, the day care does not get the $12 subsidy for that child.

It seems a rather cumbersome way to provide program funding and day cares must have great difficulty tracking and reporting child attendance, not to mention the cost to administer the system at the ECE end of things.

To quote a constituent regarding the recent YK closure: “On November 22nd , my son could not attend day care,

along with 10 other children. There were other children every day of that week who could not attend and this process will continue until more staff are hired. On November 22nd , because those 11 children were not at the

day care, the GNWT subsidy was reduced considerably." I see I’m running out of time, Mr. Speaker. May I have unanimous consent to conclude my statement?

Day Care Issues In The NWT
Item 3: Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The Member is seeking unanimous consent to conclude her statement. Are there any nays? There are no nays. You may conclude your statement, Ms. Bisaro.

Day Care Issues In The NWT
Item 3: Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. The GNWT subsidy was reduced considerably. Whether or not a child is sick, whether or not the children are away at Christmas visiting grandparents, the day care must still maintain their operation and the expenses that go with it: heat, power, water, building maintenance, staffing and so on. The way the subsidy is currently applied makes no sense and it hampers the effective operation of the day care. It seems to me, and to many parents who need to use the day care for their children, that ECE needs to change their subsidy program. A consistent level of funding is necessary to ensure consistent operation of day cares. I will be asking some questions of the Minister of ECE during question period. Thank you.

---Applause

Day Care Issues In The NWT
Item 3: Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Jacobson.

All-Weather Road In Nunakput
Item 3: Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the most important priorities facing this 16th Legislative Assembly is developing a plan to improve

northern infrastructure. This plan should help facilitate our economy and improve mobility so we can improve the quality of life for a lower cost of living for our people. This is particularly true in the more isolated and remote communities, many of which currently lack year-round road access. For example, my home community of Tuktoyaktuk has no year-round road access but is served in the winter months by a 187-kilometre ice road constructed by the Department of Transportation.

Mr. Speaker, the construction of an all-weather link to Tuktoyaktuk has been talked about for as long as I can remember. It started far back in the 1960s by the federal government. This road is linked to the rest of Canada, the Arctic Ocean to connect the country from coast to coast to coast. It was an important priority in previous transportation strategies prepared by the Government of the Northwest Territories, such as the road could form part of the system running down the Mackenzie Valley from Wrigley to Tuktoyaktuk. That would provide an all-weather road access for the communities to facilitate resource development in the Mackenzie Delta, the

Mackenzie Valley and the Delta. Mr. Speaker, this road would have many positive benefits for the people in the Northwest Territories. It would eliminate costly reliance on air transport, winter ice roads, barging, shipping of supplies and materials for development of projects and community resupply. It would provide more efficient, reliable transportation systems to explore and develop gas deposits in the Mackenzie Valley, the Sahtu and the Beaufort regions. It would dramatically increase tourism potential to the beautiful part of the country. The first phase…Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to proceed with my statement.

All-Weather Road In Nunakput
Item 3: Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

The Member is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Are there any nays? There are no nays. You may conclude your statement, Mr. Jacobson.