This is page numbers 1921 to 1954 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 3rd 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 honourable.

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Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don’t believe there is any question about the merits of the program or the skill sets of the midwife who is delivering the services here.

The issue, as the Member is aware and everybody here is aware, is that we are under extreme pressure in fiscal realities. In the Department of Health and Social Services that has meant we have to work really hard to make sure we protect the core services that Health and Social Services has to deliver. The midwifery program is not one of those core services. In fact, it’s a service that in seven provinces in the country is not even publicly funded.

I agree with the Member. I was a strong supporter of the midwifery legislation, and I do believe there is a huge potential for this program to grow. But in the interim we do not have the money to expand this program. At the moment we’re trying to hold everything we have and protect what we have.

Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thanks to the Minister for that response. If I remember correctly, once upon a time the department had a midwife implementation committee that was recommending, and the department was recommending, four midwife positions in Yellowknife as well as midwife positions in Fort Simpson, Inuvik. There might even have been some in Norman Wells, but I’m not one hundred per cent sure about that.

I believe, originally, they were intended to be funded out of the Territorial Health Access Fund. I know that fund still exists. I also believe that it comes to an end in 2010–2011. Is the funding no longer there for at least one more position in Yellowknife Health and Social Services, at least for the duration or to the end of the THAF? That would give us two years of a second midwife in Yellowknife, which would help us demonstrate how valuable this program is and, hopefully, build a case for moving into the smaller communities where I think the benefits would be far greater, communities such as Fort Simpson, Inuvik, Norman Wells and Hay River.

I know that there is money in THAF, and I know it’s just short term, but will the Minister check into THAF to see if there’s any more money that we

could pull out of that? A hundred thousand is all we need to get a second position in Yellowknife.

Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

I don’t think we need to demonstrate that this program is useful. I don’t think we need to have any more discussions on that.

We need way more than $100,000 to create the second position. A midwife position comes with a need for about three more positions, so it’s about a four PY idea.

About the THAF funding. We do not have any extra room in that funding. This midwife position at Yellowknife health is currently being funded under THAF. As the Member knows very well, THAF funding will expire in ’09–10. We do need to look at how we are funding these positions. This is a valuable position, but it’s one that is an extra to the core services that this department has to provide.

I would commit to the Member that we will look at everything to see how we can use our money better. If the midwifery program is one of them, I would do that. But under the current financial situation, it is a difficult task.

Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

I disagree slightly. I believe $100,000 would be about enough to actually hire a second position. We don’t need extra on call dollars and whatnot, because those on call dollars already exist, and they would just split between the two incumbents.

I am glad to hear that the Minister is saying that they’re going to check out all options and explore all opportunities. I know that we have all these wonderful strategic investment committees that are talking about our future and reinvestment into the public service to meet some of our mandates. I believe this one would fall under Building Our Future. Has the Minister talked with the Minister responsible for Building Our Future about the possibility of obtaining about $100,000 from that pot to build this capacity in Yellowknife and, once again, use it as a shining light on how we should be delivering these services in the other communities?

Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

I believe the Members are going to get a chance to review all of the new initiatives under that strategic initiative committee and Building Our Future budget in November. I could confirm that every cent of that money has been subscribed to.

The midwifery program is something that we want to be able to expand to smaller communities, where there is, I think, even greater need for midwifery because of the fact that there’s not a regular doctor service and other arrangements for women who are expecting to give birth.

I would like to commit to the Member, again…. I just want to be frank and direct about the fiscal situation

that the government and the Department of Health is operating under. In looking at all new initiatives, we’d be looking to protect the core services before we could expand to extra services. Midwifery, as good as it is and as much as I support it wholeheartedly, is still an unfunded program, and it’s one that is an extra to the core service.

Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Final supplementary, Mr. Abernethy.

Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thanks to the Minister for that response. This program, midwifery services — hopefully someday we will get them into the communities like Simpson, Norman Wells, Inuvik, Hay River — will actually, I believe, save us a lot of money in the future. I think it’s time for us to actually think outside the box. Let’s find ways to get this $100,000 that we need to create this second position and then pursue additional positions in the community.

You indicated earlier that you’ll explore all options. Maybe I can get a commitment from the Minister at this time to look into the department itself. How many assistant deputy ministers do we need? How many directors do we need? We’re awfully top heavy, and at the end of the day, we’re about providing services to our people. Do we really need to be spending all these dollars on senior management in all of these departments and paying them huge bonuses when we should be delivering service to our people? This is a valuable service. Let’s get in there, dig in there and find some money. Will the Minister commit to looking at the structure within the departments to see if there is any money there?

Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

I’m happy to advise the Member that in fact the Department of Health and Social Services is one of the few departments that actually reduced their top management. We reduced the positions at headquarters by 13 per cent in the last round. We went from two ADMs to one ADM, and we have reduced a director position by one. That went unnoticed, but we did all of that in the last six months.

The second thing. While I support — and I do…. There’s no question that a midwifery program is the way to go in the future, but there has not been any evidence to suggest that it is replacing some regular medical services that pregnant mothers in Canada still undergo. I do personally believe that birthing is way too medicalized, and the more midwives we could have, the better. But that’s not how the system is being implemented right now. Midwifery continues to be an extra service to the core service. There’s no evidence to suggest that it’s saving us money right now.

But I will continue to review that and work with the Member, and I will look in every nook and cranny

for every penny I can find to support such a program.

Question 36-16(3) Enhancing Midwifery Services In Yellowknife
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Lee. The honourable Member for Kam Lake, Mr. Ramsay.

Question 37-16(3) Impact Of Global Economic Downturn
Oral Questions

October 24th, 2008

David Ramsay Kam Lake

I have a few questions today, and I guess the first question I’d like to ask is of the Premier.

I listened to CBC News yesterday. I heard that the Legislature got back to work over in the Yukon, and one of the first things that Premier Fentie did was set up a committee of deputy ministers to keep a watchful eye on what is happening with the global economic downturn.

Again, I found it interesting that our Premier didn’t go to the Premiers’ meetings that were held recently in Montreal. I’d like to ask the Premier: what is our government doing today to help assure residents of the Northwest Territories that we’re keeping a watchful eye on what’s happening globally to the economy?

Question 37-16(3) Impact Of Global Economic Downturn
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The Hon. Premier, Mr. Roland.

Question 37-16(3) Impact Of Global Economic Downturn
Oral Questions

Inuvik Boot Lake

Floyd Roland Premier

The fact is that the Finance Minister is on the situation, looking at it and having his staff do the review. In fact, he’ll be updating us here in the next few days as to some of the impacts and updates from the fiscal situation that we’re looking at.

Question 37-16(3) Impact Of Global Economic Downturn
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

The financial targets that were set at the beginning of this year by the government obviously didn’t hit the targets on the reduction side that they were hoping for. They’ve rushed into a lot of other reinvestment scenarios that see them spending almost as much money as they’ve reduced.

I’m wondering: is the government the least bit concerned that this spending spree that we seem to be on is going to come back and haunt us? I know it’s almost Halloween, Mr. Speaker. Is it going to haunt us?

Question 37-16(3) Impact Of Global Economic Downturn
Oral Questions

Inuvik Boot Lake

Floyd Roland Premier

When the Member says “they,” let me remind him that we all had a say in the budget process itself. In fact, some of the targets not met were directed by the Assembly as we looked at how we were going to live within our means.

The goal is that we’re still going to live within our means. The Minister of Finance has had his staff reviewing and keeping an eye on the situation. We will continue to work with the Premiers across the country to ensure that we’re kept in the loop and

work with them on any initiatives that come forward. We’ll always be happy to report that to Members.

Question 37-16(3) Impact Of Global Economic Downturn
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

During my Member’s statement I also said that Regular Members, too, play a role in this, because every day — and I’m as guilty as the next Member — we stand up here and demand of government enhanced programs and capital projects in our ridings. We’re asking for more money.

But I really do believe the government needs to come up with a worst case scenario. What if equalization is cut as soon as next summer? This is a reality that could hit the government hard. I’m wondering: has the government got any plans to deal with cuts to equalization or cuts to our funding that will see us have to scale back services? And where are our priorities on what we’re going to look at?