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.

Topics

The House met at 10:02 a.m.

Prayer.

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good morning, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Orders of the Day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Public Works and Services, Mr. Michael McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 5-16(3) “over The Top” Marine Resupply
Ministers’ Statements

Deh Cho

Michael McLeod Minister of Public Works and Services

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to speak about an exciting initiative being carried out by the Petroleum Products Division of the Department of Public Works.

The Petroleum Products Division provides fuel sales, dispensing and delivery services in 16 NWT communities not served by the private sector and in 20 communities of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation. For many years petroleum products destined for Beaufort-Delta communities have been purchased solely from northern Alberta sources, transported via rail car to Hay River and then loaded onto barges for transportation down the Mackenzie River.

In 2005 the Petroleum Products Division began pursuing an alternative model designed to reduce the cost of delivering fuel to communities in the Beaufort-Delta. Instead of delivering fuel via the traditional route, this new Over-the-Top route saw diesel fuel and Jet A-1 aviation fuel purchased from North American west coast or offshore refineries and then transported along the Alaskan north shore by larger vessels and delivered to facilities in Ulukhaktok, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.

The resupply routes for the community of Tsiigehtchic and for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation in Fort McPherson will also

change as a result of this new delivery route. In recent years diesel fuel has been resupplied via the Dempster Highway. This year the diesel fuel required for these two locations was delivered via the Over-the-Top route and is staged in Inuvik. The diesel fuel will then be trucked as required to the community of Tsiigehtchic and for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation in Fort McPherson.

The use of this new delivery route during the 2008 shipping season for diesel fuel and Jet A-1 aviation fuel has resulted in freight cost savings of more than $2 million — savings that will be passed directly to consumers in Beaufort-Delta communities served by the Petroleum Products Division.

While it is true that the cost to purchase fuel has increased and the price of fuel has risen, the price of diesel fuel landed in the Beaufort-Delta communities is between 12 and 24 cents less expensive for consumers than it would have been had the fuel been transported via the traditional Mackenzie River route.

Because of our relatively small volumes and in order to meet GNWT specifications, it was necessary to purchase gasoline from Alberta sources and transport that gasoline via the traditional route. Because of that the freight cost savings achieved for diesel fuel and Jet A-1 fuel could not be duplicated for gasoline. The Petroleum Products Division will pursue this in coming years in an effort to achieve similar savings for consumers of gasoline.

This initiative is an excellent example of the kind of creative thinking that is happening within the Department of Public Works and Services. Through the pursuit of new initiatives, the Petroleum Products Division was able to make a small change that resulted in big savings for residents of the Beaufort-Delta.

Minister’s Statement 5-16(3) “over The Top” Marine Resupply
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Jacobson.

Nunakput Constituency Issues
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On this day, the last day of the fall session, I’d like to reconfirm why we are elected to represent our people in the Legislative Assembly, what we believe in and what we must produce as meaningful results for those whom we are elected by.

Like all northern leaders, our people elected us to listen to their concerns, work together, find solutions and lead by example. As MLAs we have a responsibility to best understand the challenges faced by our constituents to find the best solutions to address these concerns. We are expected to bring issues to individual Ministers, to the Assembly and to our standing committees to work together to produce results.

Mr. Speaker, I want to confirm the main issues I have been hearing from my residents of Nunakput from my time as the mayor and since I put my name forward and was elected to represent Nunakput as an MLA.

My constituents want economic opportunities. They want to participate in the NWT economy, support their families and provide future employment and business opportunities for their children and grandchildren.

My people want assistance to deal with the increasing cost of living in our region. Communities are at the end of the road. Air and marine transportation systems…. We lack access to reasonably priced goods and services compared to the rest of the residents in the other regions of the NWT. The skyrocketing prices we pay for energy, food and all life’s basic necessities are impacting negatively on the health and well-being of our families.

My people are also looking for us to provide them with the best possible education and health services. We all know that quality education and healthy communities are key to a brighter future.

As Members of the Legislative Assembly I believe we all clearly heard these messages from our constituents. We got together to frame our priorities and terms of office. We are now expected to focus our undivided attention on finding reasonable solutions to deliver real improvements for our people. Our people want to have the tools to succeed. This should be our focus.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted.

Nunakput Constituency Issues
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. In my opinion, there is a giant step we must all make to produce the best results for the people of the Northwest Territories. We must find the means to work together, to work with the federal government and our MP, to work with our community leaders. We must find a way to work more closely with aboriginal leaders across the NWT.

A few months ago Nunakput was honoured with a visit from the Prime Minister, Mr. Harper. I want to repeat his statements while visiting Tuktoyaktuk:

“Our government has launched an ambitious northern agenda based on the timeless responsibility imposed by our national anthem, to keep the True North strong and free. To this end, we will encourage responsible development of the North’s bountiful economic resources. We will ensure jobs and opportunities and the health and good governance of northern communities. We will protect the unique and fragile Arctic ecosystem for the generations yet to come. Of course, we will assert and defend Canada’s sovereignty and security in our Arctic.”

We have the attention of the federal government, and now we have to ensure Canada’s priorities in the North reflect our priorities. Politics is the art of compromise. It means listening to each other — meaning respecting the different perspectives. But it also means finding common ground and working together to produce results.

I urge the Premier and the Cabinet to reach Regular Members, to reach northern leaders, to build consensus required to advance the northern agenda to the benefit of all Northerners. We share a vision and must now represent the clear and supported vision of Canada and guide critical decisions on transfer revenues and responsibilities. Decades of pondering and positioning have taken place. Northerners are getting impatient. We want leaders who lead.

Mr. Speaker, our elders have made an important decision by listening to each other, discussing solutions, making informed decisions on behalf of our people. That’s how we’ve survived. Actions always speak louder than words.

The clock is ticking. We have 35 months to go until the territorial elections. Our sleeves are rolled up, and we know the challenges, so let’s get the job done.

Nunakput Constituency Issues
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

I’ll have to remind Members that Members’ statements are two and a half minutes long. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Abernethy.

NWT Midwifery Program
Members’ Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I recently attended an open house for the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority’s midwifery program. The event was well attended and highlighted the value of midwives in the Northwest Territories. There are currently three midwives practising in the Northwest Territories: two in Fort Smith and one here in Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah.

The Midwifery Profession Act, proclaimed in 2005, provides for the licensing, registration and regulation of registered midwives in the Northwest Territories. Midwives have been active intermittently in Yellowknife since 2006 and in Fort Smith for over ten years.

Midwives are health care professionals who provide low risk women with necessary support, care and advice during their pregnancies, labour and delivery and after the births. Their care includes preventative measures, detection of complications in a mother and child and accessing further medical assistance if there is a need. The midwife also has an important role as a health counsellor and educator, not only for the mother but also her family and community.

Midwives may practise in any setting, such as homes, clinics or hospitals. Women in midwives’ care do not normally see a physician unless complications arise. That reduces the workload on general practitioners currently performing routine examinations on expectant mothers. Obstetricians and gynecologists are open to the partnerships with midwives to make sure that mother and child receive quality care.

Mr. Speaker, midwifery is publicly funded in five jurisdictions, including the NWT. The province of Alberta has recently allowed insurance coverage to midwife services. In Holland, England and New Zealand midwives manage 70 per cent or more of the births compared to only 3 per cent in Canada. There is a growing popularity of midwives here, and an increasing number of expectant mothers are being turned away due to limited funding for midwifery programs. Since January 2008, 16 Yellowknife women have been declined midwifery services due to lack of space.

Yellowknife Health and Social Services has funding for only one midwife position, although there is clear public support for more. Yellowknife Health and Social Services is committed to the success of a sustainable midwifery program. The midwife works closely with an obstetrician, family physician and nurses and has regular contact with midwives in Fort Smith. Clients can call upon the midwife 24 hours a day, seven days a week, unless she is off on call or annual vacation leave. The midwife is

presently responsible for 26 women requiring various types of care and fills her quota of new clients every month.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted.

NWT Midwifery Program
Members’ Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I’ll be fast. A detailed list of her responsibilities demonstrates a wide range of services provided by midwives and helps us understand how highly women in the community value her care.

At the appropriate time I’ll be asking the Minister of Health and Social Services about midwifery programs in Yellowknife.

NWT Midwifery Program
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Constituent Response To GNWT Revenue Options Paper
Members’ Statements

October 24th, 2008

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On this last day for Members’ statements for a while I would like to give voice to comments I have received in response to the revenue options paper put out by the Finance Department. The comments were many, and they were thoughtful and included questions such as: “Where is the analysis of the impact of cutting jobs on the GNWT finances? Why are suggestions from knowledgeable people being ignored, and why is critical research absent? Why are cost reduction mechanisms nonexistent?”

But to the suggestions, Mr. Speaker. First and foremost, I received a consistent message that an increase in taxes is the wrong way to go. To quote one writer, “A focus on taxes is completely missing the boat.”

Having said that, there is support for certain taxes, such as applying a surtax to companies that fly their employees in and out of the Territories for work; increasing the payroll tax while at the same time increasing the northern residents tax deduction as an offset; creating a road tax for resource development companies; raising corporate taxes, particularly for the mining industry; increasing the so-called sin taxes and make liquor and cigarettes very expensive; and lastly, instituting a 6 per cent hotel tax.

In addition, I heard concern about the cuts that residents expect will be part of the 2009–10 operations budget. Two more quotes for you: “Take a planned, comprehensive approach to cutting the public service” and “The last effort was inadequately considered and prepared.”

We need to reduce our expenditures, no question, and our residents accept that, but they feel there are other actions besides job cuts that will accomplish the objectives. Their ideas: cut out wasteful government spending; decrease or eliminate print ads in newspapers and magazines; file annual or other reports electronically instead of by hard copy; eliminate non-critical jobs as they become vacant; establish a committee of frontline GNWT staff to identify cost savings; put in place the necessary agreement with the Government of Canada to allow us to nominate new immigrants, especially in the areas of medicine — doctors and nurses — and skilled tradespeople; establish an employee incentive program to reward staff who identify significant operational savings.

I will finish with one last quote, Mr. Speaker, which we would be well advised to heed: “In budgeting, reduce harm and improve services for the needy. Make this your one rule, and you will achieve social justice.”

Constituent Response To GNWT Revenue Options Paper
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Promoting The GNWT As An Employer Of Choice
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to address the conditions and opportunities this government needs to consider to become, once again, an employer of choice.

The job market in Canada is changing rapidly. This government needs to make some progressive changes if it intends to remain competitive in attracting and retaining well educated and motivated individuals. Over the next ten years a large percentage of Canada’s workforce is going into retirement, and this is driving up wages for educated and skilled entry level employees. We cannot simply rely on higher wages to attract employees anymore. Our graduates are increasingly finding equal or better paying jobs down south.

Mr. Speaker, attracting employees in today’s workforce means embracing progressive policies that recognize peoples’ need for recognition and appreciation, for feeling that the work done is of some worth and that the employee is a member of a team with full awareness of the goals and objectives being pursued.

Mr. Speaker, I have visited with several employees over the last few months, including summer students, casual employees and term employees. Their comments are disturbingly similar. “It’s a waste” is a common expression among them. They are referring to entire positions they have held; office resources such as energy, time and dollars;

and finally, talent and potential. There are many and convincing examples here, and the costs are clear.

What is needed, Mr. Speaker? These people suggest good communication with supervisors is essential, ensuring employees understand their jobs and, critically, why their job is important. They suggested an orientation that shows the new employee more than where the coffee room is. A teamwork approach is needed, and this requires explicit effort and development, with some clear idea of how the employee’s position fits within the team.

Give the employees a small project that is their own or for which they are the lead. If the employee’s job is inherently boring, such as filing, this is even more important. Summer students often complete their assignments in a very short time and spend the rest of their time surfing the Net. Supervisors should begin lining up tasks for them in the months before they arrive so they are engaged and challenged.

Finally, supervisors should become aware of new employees’ particular interests, motivations and skills and ensure that their job engages these interests to the fullest extent possible.

Mr. Speaker, I request unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted.

Promoting The GNWT As An Employer Of Choice
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. In the area of wastage of resources, these people suggest we encourage carpooling within divisions, creating a GNWT blog where employees can make suggestions for savings, and assigning a roving resource monitor for ensuring efficiency. This assignment could rotate among staff so that everyone is involved. Many employees who have suggestions for improvement in their department do not speak out for fear of retribution. We need to give these people a vessel through which they can anonymously express their concerns.

In summary, Mr. Speaker, our employees know the answer to this situation. Let’s listen to them and make progressive moves to improve their workplace engagement. Mahsi.