This is page numbers 545 - 573 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 assembly.

Topics

Acknowledgement Of Northern-born Lawyer Jay Bran
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 548

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think I have the permission of this House when I say we collectively pray and sincerely ask that they will stay in the North, live and work, raise their families and retire here. Mr. Speaker, I also know that Jay's family and especially his wife, Pam, was at his side before, during and after law school. They share every bit of Jay's accomplishment today.

Mr. Speaker, as someone who has had the firsthand experience of going through our wonderful NWT education system in the North, going through law school, which is often compared with the military boot camp, and working in the very challenging but rewarding profession of law, I know there will be many exciting, interesting and rewarding years for Jay and his family. I want to take this opportunity to send my heartfelt congratulations to Jay Bran and his entire family. Certainly, this is a happy event worthy of a celebration in this House by all Members of this House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Acknowledgement Of Northern-born Lawyer Jay Bran
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 548

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Duty To Accommodate Guidelines For GNWT Employees
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 548

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to use my Member's statement to draw attention to a potential gap in the guidelines for applying the duty to accommodate for employees of our public service. The human rights legislation is quite clear that the employer has the duty to accommodate when an employee has an obligation to care for a family member with a disability unless it can be proven that this accommodation causes undue hardship to the employer.

Managers in our public service should have reflective policies that allow them to make these accommodations within a clearly defined set of circumstances. Employees of our public service should not have to resort to making an application under the Human Rights Commission to assert that accommodation.

I believe that the GNWT would like to be seen as a fair and compassionate employer when it comes to a matter of accommodating employees who could not, for example, work a nightshift in order to care for a family member with a disability that would not allow that family member to be left alone at night.

Understandably, without such an internal policy, managers would be in the unenviable situation of trying to arbitrarily decide on requests that would come before them for any number of reasons to accommodate the needs of their employees. I would like to know what committees or decision-making bodies exist within government departments to consider the requests of employees when employees make an application to be accommodated in this way.

In the absence of clearly defined policy, which should be in keeping with the human rights legislation, the possibility of abuse of this accommodation for less than serious or frivolous circumstances could put the manager of that employee in a very difficult situation. They could be seen to be making such decisions in an ad hoc manner.

Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of employer and employee, in the interest of treating our public servants with fairness, dignity and respect, I believe that such policies, if they do not exist today, should exist. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Duty To Accommodate Guidelines For GNWT Employees
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 548

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger.

Newfoundland And Labrador's Hebron Fields Resource Royalties Agreement
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 548

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I recently read and watched, with interest, the news that Newfoundland/Labrador and Premier Williams had successfully negotiated an agreement with Chevron for the new Hebron fields. I remember, as well, months ago when the negotiations broke down and the oil companies left, saying that the Premier and Newfoundland/Labrador were being unreasonable and asking too much. From what I understand, the Premier stood his ground. He knows, like we do, that the land is their bank. If they are going to allow access to those resources, they have to get the best deal possible. He also knows, as do we, that the world needs those resources and that they have been there for millions of years but the demand is there. They are beating a path to their doorstep of Newfoundland/Labrador as they are to the Northwest Territories. I would like to just acknowledge and recognize the fact that he did stand his ground. He did not feel that he had to be grateful for the attention and benefits that the oil companies were prepared to give him, but that they were equals. They want something that we have. We have an obligation to strike the best deal for the people we represent and at the same time protect the environment.

I believe he did that. I believe there is a lesson there for the incoming 16th Assembly as we look at resource development, at the macroeconomic policy, and the duty to consult, that we keep those things in mind. We do not have to be a humble mendicant shuffling our feet and tugging our forelock as we deal with big business. We

have what the world needs, but we also know that we have an obligation to be careful because the land is our bank. We have an obligation for all the generations yet to come to ensure that while we make the maximum use of those resources, we also protect the land and the environment.

We cannot have a macroeconomic policy that does not consider, front and centre, how you keep a healthy environment and healthy people. So we should take a page and learn from the Government of Newfoundland what can be done. We have some good pieces in place with the macroeconomic policy and duty to consult, but let's not forget that we should stand tall and proud as northerners and be able to look these multi-national major organizations in the eye and deal with them from that basis. Thank you.

---Applause

Newfoundland And Labrador's Hebron Fields Resource Royalties Agreement
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 549

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Braden.

Support For Volunteer Sector
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 549

Bill Braden Great Slave

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. In Canada, volunteer sectors employ more than 1.3 million Canadians with salaries and benefits packages in excess of $40 billion a year. Here in the NWT, 53 percent of adult NWT residents volunteer with a group. An estimated 86 percent of us volunteer informally on our own. Collectively, it is estimated that the efforts of all these NWT volunteers contribute an estimated $50 million in value to our economy.

Mr. Speaker, in the 2005 pre-budget consultation documents, a statement was made that the value of the work of volunteer organizations cannot be underestimated. So last year it was with great disappointment that our colleagues in the federal government cut from the NWT volunteer initiative and many other NGOs across the NWT, but from the volunteer initiative that was underway here, $160,000, or 95 percent of its funding. Needless to say, that organization had to fold.

I know from being a volunteer and working with other volunteers in the past and in my term here as an MLA, that volunteers will strive, they do believe in what they're doing and they will succeed even in the face of this kind of betrayal, I would say. Mr. Speaker, we cannot take our volunteers and our NGOs for granted. Just two days ago, the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment told us of strides that we're making in our income security framework redesign. He mentioned, by name, many of these organizations, 13 of which are volunteer driven. Hundreds of other NGOs play vital roles in the arts, recreation, youth and the professions, and I'm grateful to them all, Mr. Speaker. I plea that this government and future Assemblies loosen up the purse strings, lighten up the regulations and the paper burden and treat these people as the true partners they are, that we need and we value and that we, I will say again, can never take for granted. Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Support For Volunteer Sector
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 549

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Support For Volunteer Sector
Item 3: Members' Statements

August 23rd, 2007

Page 549

Bill Braden Great Slave

Thank you. Mr. Speaker, it is no coincidence here, that I chose to speak of volunteerism, which I believe to be as vital and rewarding as any kind of public service. So as I take my leave of this distinguished Chamber, it is with conviction that I say that I want to continue to contribute in some way to the tremendous future of this amazing territory and that while I'm going to be leaving the NWT to be going to school, it is only temporary, it is not good-bye; rather, it is only good-bye for now. Mahsi. Merci beaucoup. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Support For Volunteer Sector
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 549

Bill Braden Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Braden. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, Mr. McLeod.

Reflections On The 15th Assembly
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 549

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm going to use my last Member's statement of this 15th Assembly to reflect on my just over two and a half years here. It has been a privilege, and I mean that sincerely, to serve the people of Inuvik Twin Lakes. I look forward to the opportunity to reaffirm their confidence in me and come back and do some more battle in the 16th.

I thoroughly enjoyed working with my colleagues on this side of the House, especially those in Social Programs. We had many discussions; we had differences of opinion; but you always acted in the best interests of your constituents and I respect you a lot for that.

Mr. Bell, Mr. Dent, Mr. Handley, you're all leaving this Assembly and I wish you well in your future plans. We've had some agreements; I've agreed with a lot of things you've said. There are some things that you've said that I haven't agreed with and I wanted to agree with you, but then that would have made us both wrong, so I didn't.

---Laughter

I've enjoyed sitting here next to my colleague Mr. Hawkins. It's been an interesting two and a half years, Robert.

To Mr. Braden, our elder on this side of the House, I counted on Mr. Braden a lot for advice and he'd always lean over and tell me what we were doing, so I appreciate that.

---Laughter

I believed him for the first week; after that, I was on my own.

We have a job to do here -- it's not a job, it's something that we chose to do -- and that's almost impossible to do without the support of people that put you here, people that work to get you here. Then once you get in here, Mr. Mercer and his staff really put you to work. I remember my first couple of days here where I went to torture room B and had my own private orientation.

---Laughter

Also without the support of your family, it's almost impossible to do what we do. My wife is up in the gallery there and we've been married for 28 years now and she's

had to make a bit of sacrifice for me being gone all the time; at least I hope it was a sacrifice.

---Laughter

So to all my colleagues in here, I wish you all well in whatever you decide to do. To those that are running for re-election, I wish you well and the best of luck. I pray things work out well for everyone in here. Thank you.

---Applause

Reflections On The 15th Assembly
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 550

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Monfwi, Mr. Lafferty.

Accountability And Transparency
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 550

Jackson Lafferty North Slave

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. (Translation) Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today is our last meeting. I would like to make a statement. Ever since our last election, we've travelled into various communities, we spoke to elders, youth and community members. We tried our best to work for our people. We have a lot of different jurisdictions in Canada but here in the Northwest Territories, we have different jurisdictions. I wish the best for everyone in this next Assembly. We have to work well together in order to go forward. These are the messages that our communities give us. (Translation ends)

...day of our session. I would like to leave a statement for those who will be returning to the 16th Assembly and carry it forward.

Mr. Speaker, throughout our journey to various communities as MLAs, we were told, over and over, to be accountable to the people that we represent and serve. We are quite unique here in the North compared to other jurisdictions throughout Canada and other parts of the country. We need to be out there simply to listen to the voices of the North. Mr. Speaker, another point that they share with us is simply being transparent, being open. One hand needs to know what the other hand is doing or thinking. So they could either work with it or support such initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, what we witnessed here in this House yesterday on the Deh Cho Bridge is a fine example that would have been smooth sailing if the committee members had the detailed information in advance. Mr. Speaker, on the other hand, when we get together and communicate with each other, our committee members and local governments such as Gameti School, we can accomplish positive results and good relations that will serve us well into the future. Mr. Speaker, I certainly hope that this is a lesson to learn from for the new government and Members of the 16th Assembly. Mahsi cho.

---Applause

Accountability And Transparency
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 550

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Villeneuve.

Appreciation And Best Wishes
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 550

Robert Villeneuve Tu Nedhe

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I'd just like to use my last Member's statement here today to express my gratitude and appreciation to the many people I've worked with here during my tenure here in the 15th Assembly. Firstly, I'd like to thank my constituents of Tu Nedhe for electing me in 2003-2004 to undertake the very important and challenging task of representing their interests in this unique system of consensus government we have here in the NWT. Secondly, thank you to all of my colleagues here in this House for all of the wonderful experiences and advice on leadership and politics that they have provided me over the last four years; some good and some not so good. Mr. Speaker, I have to point out that the level of respect and dignity that everyone shows to one another in this Assembly is second to none, and I appreciate everybody for that.

I have to also mention the excellent work and work ethic that the Legislative Assembly staff have continually upheld without reservation as we, as an Assembly, could not function without. Many thanks to them for that. I would also like to thank the support staff: the EAs, the CAs, and all the secretaries that have come and gone. Also, all the Members and Ministers for all their support, cooperation and the serious consideration that they provide to resolving the many concerns and issues that are brought to their attention by NWT residents through their MLAs.

Last but not least, Mr. Speaker, I really have to thank my family and the many friends for their continuous support and encouragement that they have shown me for the past four years. I am deeply indebted to them for that and for showing me how the love of a family member, a husband, wife or partner, or just a hug of a child, can make all of this politics seem so trivial, but at the same time so very important to everybody in our pursuit of happiness.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to wish Members who are not pursuing re-election all the best in whatever pursuits that they have and wish all the Members that are seeking re-election, like myself, good luck and I look forward to continue on working with you all in the next Assembly in this fast, exciting, growing economy here in the NWT that I always call home. Thank you.

---Applause