This is page numbers 495 - 544 of the Hansard for the 15th 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 going.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Brendan Bell, Mr. Braden, Honourable Paul Delorey, Honourable Charles Dent, Mrs. Groenewegen, Honourable Joe Handley, Mr. Hawkins, Honourable David Krutko, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Lee, Hon. Michael McLeod, Mr. McLeod, Hon. Kevin Menicoche, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. Pokiak, Mr. Ramsay, Honourable Floyd Roland, Mr. Villeneuve, Mr. Yakeleya

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 495

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the House. Orders of the day. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 36-15(6): Helping Northerners To Achieve Self-reliance Through Income Security
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 495

Charles Dent Frame Lake

Good choice, Mr. Speaker. Thank you. Mr. Speaker, self-reliance is one of the core values of northerners and this government. It is an essential part of the vision of this Assembly. Northern people should have the tools and resources they need to function independently and to exercise self-determination.

In the summer of 2004, this government started planning for the redesign of income security programming in the Northwest Territories. Government staff undertook a review of all income security programs. They discovered that there are 17 programs in the government as a whole being delivered by seven different departments. Approximately $120 million is spent each year on these programs, with roughly half that amount being administered by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment through seven programs. Some provide "hidden" support, like the NWT power subsidy, while others, like the Income Assistance Program, are delivered directly to clients.

This review resulted in a policy framework that was approved in September 2005. Following that, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment was directed to develop an implementation plan outlining how the redesign of the GNWT income security programs would be carried out and how other departments would be involved.

The development of a comprehensive Income Security Program model based on the approved policy framework was also required.

It was important to understand what northerners wanted in an income security system. We gained this understanding through a consultation process. This consultation, and in fact the entire review of income security, was greatly aided by the support and advice of many people from non-government agencies, in particular:

  • • Lyda Fuller, executive director, YWCA
  • • Jane Whyte, executive director, YACL
  • • Barb Hood, executive director, NWT Seniors' Society
  • • Cecily Hewitt, executive director, NWT Council of Persons with Disabilities
  • • Arlene Hache, executive director, Centre for Northern Families
  • • several representatives from the Salvation Army; and
  • • Aggie Brockman, Alternatives North.

As well, regional meetings were held to hear advice from individuals and organizations including:

  • • the Hay River Seniors' Society
  • • Aurora College
  • • Fort Smith Uncle Gabe's Friendship Centre
  • • Fort Smith Seniors' Society
  • • the Inuvik Interagency Committee
  • • the Inuvik Homeless Shelter
  • • health and social services boards
  • • the Tlicho Community Services Agency
  • • the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce
  • • representatives of aboriginal and municipal governments.

I would like to thank all of the people who were involved in this and who continue to work with us to improve our social programs.

Based on what we learned through research and discussions with northerners, we developed an income security model to serve as a framework for supporting people in need. This new model was released this month.

The new model abandons the notion that income security programs are programs of last resort. It creates a program specific to the needs of seniors, persons with disabilities, families and single people. It emphasizes the importance of government departments and other agencies working together to meet the unique needs of individuals and families. It provides an adequate level of support for those with zero income and reduces this support by a percentage of income. Finally, this model will ensure access to all programs in all communities.

This model is not an across-the-board linear increase in benefits for northerners. It is intended to ensure that northerners are treated more equally and those who are

able are always rewarded for working towards self-reliance.

Benefit levels have been established using evidence linked to formulas that account for the cost of living through the Northwest Territories. The definition of income has changed to ensure that people are treated equally across the territory.

Government service centres will be established in all northern communities over the next two years. These service centres will provide a point of access for all income security programs and services.

Changes based on the new income security model have already been developed for Education, Culture and Employer's income assistance programs, and will go into effect in September 2007. We have set the stage for further changes to income security programs in the future with priority being given to the public housing rental subsidy.

In addition to the changes surrounding income assistance, I am pleased to announce that a new subsidy has been made available for low income parents through the Student Financial Assistance program. They will now be able to apply for a childcare user subsidy to help fund the cost of childcare while they attend class.

For the changes in our philosophy related to income security to be successful, they need to be viewed an essential part of a larger package. It is important that we use a coordinated approach to provide consistent support to help people move towards self-reliance.

This new approach should, over time, help us reduce poverty in the NWT, and lead to more self-sufficient individuals and families throughout the NWT.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 36-15(6): Helping Northerners To Achieve Self-reliance Through Income Security
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 496

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Dent. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 37-15(6): Nursing In The Nwt
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 496

Floyd Roland Inuvik Boot Lake

Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my appreciation to nurses across the NWT for their dedication and commitment in providing health care services to the people of the NWT.

---Applause

I am pleased to report the GNWT is showing significant progress towards the stabilization of the nursing workforce throughout the NWT, despite the continued nursing shortage across the country.

Summer is often one of the most difficult periods for ensuring stable health care services at the community level. For the first time in many years, we have been able to maintain services in every community and, to date, not one health centre has closed due to a nursing shortage.

---Applause

Our partnership with Aurora College in offering a four-year nursing degree program has formed the foundation for establishing a stable northern nursing workforce. Through the Graduate Nurse Placement Program, this government has made a commitment to offer indeterminate employment to all successful Aurora College nursing graduates who acquire a licence to practice nursing in the NWT. In addition to the four-year program offered through Aurora College, we have invested in specialized training to prepare nurses to work in areas such as dialysis, obstetrics, ICU and operating rooms.

More recently, stability for nursing services in the smaller community health centres has improved. Approval of job sharing arrangements, increased emphasis on recruiting nurses and investment in the Community Health Nurse Development Program are beginning to show positive results. It is important to note that these home-grown solutions are decreasing the dependency on agency nurses. We are currently utilizing four agency nurses, a significant decrease from the daily average of 13 agency nurses used a year ago.

Over the past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to some of the communities. In each of the health care centres I visited, I was pleased to hear the enthusiasm and positive comments from nurses for the work they do.

The GNWT will continue to invest in recruitment and retention of nurses and other allied health professionals. The people of the NWT deserve excellent health care, and we are committed to supporting health care workers to ensure they have the resources to serve northerners.

I would like to thank our partners for continuing to work with the government to build and sustain a northern workforce that meets the needs of NWT residents and maximizes the number of northern-trained nurses in our health care system. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 37-15(6): Nursing In The Nwt
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 496

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 38-15(6): Energy Efficiency Incentive Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 496

Michael McLeod Deh Cho

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to announce the successful launch of three new programs that are helping consumers all over the territory to be more energy efficient, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Energy Efficiency Incentive Program was launched July 6th as part of a three-program initiative. It is a $750,000 program that provides rebates to residents and businesses that purchase energy efficient models of the products and appliances we use every day. These include snowmobiles, outboard motors, woodstoves, pellet stoves, furnaces and other appliances, as well as vehicles and home renovations. The program is delivered through a partnership with the Arctic Energy Alliance.

In the first month of the program, we received almost 60 completed applications for rebates from 10 different communities. To date, more than $13,000 in rebates have been approved. Applications are coming in at a rate of three or four a day and the number of applications continues to grow. The feedback from retailers has been excellent and they report sales of energy-efficient products have grown.

We expect a surge in applications with the reinstated EnerGuide program, doing home audits again and with the fall heating season upon us. This program is one way the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is encouraging residents and businesses to make home energy efficiency a part of their everyday lives.

The Alternative Energy Technologies Program and the Energy Conservation Program are two other ways my department encourages energy efficiency. The first is a $300,000 program, designed to encourage communities, businesses and residents to monitor local wind regimes and install renewable energy technologies like solar panels, wind turbines and ground source heat pumps. This program has received considerable interest and we can expect to see more alternative energy installations around the territory.

The Energy Conservation Program provides $200,000 in contributions to community governments and non-profit organizations annually for energy-efficiency projects such as retrofitting buildings and replacing boilers and streetlights.

In addition to these programs, Mr. Speaker, the Department will begin working with retailers in the fall of 2007 to promote the use of the new generation of compact fluorescent light bulbs.

We want to encourage NWT residents to use these programs. Members of the Legislative Assembly should promote these programs in their constituencies. With increased promotion, these programs will be able to reach their full potential in saving people money, energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 38-15(6): Energy Efficiency Incentive Program
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 497

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Bell.

Minister's Statement 39-15(6): Supporting The Production Of Traditionally-tanned Moosehide
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 497

Brendan Bell Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce the Traditionally-Tanned Moosehide Program, developed by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, to ensure the continuation of traditional tanning skills and the supply of quality materials for our northern artists and craftspersons.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 39-15(6): Supporting The Production Of Traditionally-tanned Moosehide
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 497

Some Hon. Members

Hear! Hear!

Minister's Statement 39-15(6): Supporting The Production Of Traditionally-tanned Moosehide
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 497

Brendan Bell Yellowknife South

This pilot program will begin utilizing hide distributors in Norman Wells and Enterprise. These distributors, experts in assessing quality hides, will grade and purchase traditionally smoked and tanned moosehides from NWT producers and sell the hides to artists and craftspersons at the purchase cost.

Mr. Speaker, the traditional tanning process takes much time, skill and hard work, but we believe that establishing a guaranteed market for these hides will encourage more production.

This is a winning solution for both the tanner and the artist. The tanner knows that payment is forthcoming for their hard work and the artist is confident that cost-effective hides will be readily available to support their craft efforts.

This program continues to confirm the government's commitment to support our traditional economy and provide new economic opportunity for harvesters and artists in our smaller communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 39-15(6): Supporting The Production Of Traditionally-tanned Moosehide
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 497

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Bell. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

United Nations Association "a Sense Of Belonging" Diversity Project
Item 3: Members' Statements

August 22nd, 2007

Page 497

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in 2006, the United Nations Association in Canada established a national initiative designed to promote diversity and reduce racism in Canada. UNA-Canada launched a project entitled "A Sense of Belonging" and established partnerships with local agencies in nine communities across Canada, one of which was the Centre for Northern Families in Yellowknife.

The United Nations Association is a Canadian non-governmental organization mandated to promote UN programs and activities within Canada. UNA-Canada sees itself as the people's movement for the UN.

Mr. Speaker, in fulfilling the mandate of the Sense of Belonging project in the NWT, the Centre for Northern Families' Immigrant and Ethno-cultural Program, directed by Carolina Perdomo with the support of UNA-Canada and funding from Heritage Canada, has partnered to offer several information sessions to the public and carried out a consultation process with young people from both the aboriginal and ethno-cultural community.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, a film presentation of the youth consultation was highlighted at a UNA-Canada roundtable session which was the follow-up of last year's regional panel meeting. The roundtable explored priority areas and identified action items related to building a cohesive community, increasing civic participation by all sectors of the population and promoting religious and cultural diversity.

The work of UNA-Canada and the Centre for Northern Families of this exciting project in the NWT will be highlighted at a national conference in the spring of 2008.

In addition to the Sense of Belonging project, I am pleased the United Nations Association in Canada continues to expand its commitment to the North on several other fronts. UNA-Canada appointed a national board of director to represent the North and included the communities of Behchoko and Yellowknife in a national consultation process related to community perceptions of children's health. Children nine to 12 years old in both communities were directly involved in providing input into the Healthy Children, Healthy Communities project which identified social determinations of health among Canada's children.

As well, Mr. Speaker, UNA-Canada hopes to create a northern model United Nations conference that will involve

college-level youth from across the territory. This model UN will simulate the activities of various UN bodies and be a significant opportunity to help northern...

United Nations Association "a Sense Of Belonging" Diversity Project
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 498

The Speaker Paul Delorey

I am sorry, Ms. Lee. Your time has expired.