This is page numbers 5095 - 5126 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 5th 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

The House met at 1:40 p.m.

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Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. Roland.

Minister’s Statement 49-16(5): Devolution
Ministers’ Statements

Inuvik Boot Lake

Floyd Roland Premier

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The devolution of decision-making authorities over public lands and waters from Canada to the Northwest Territories has been a matter of debate and negotiation for much of my lifetime.

Our strong belief is that NWT residents must have the capacity and authority to protect and manage public lands in the Northwest Territories to ensure that our Territory’s abundant resources are developed in a sustainable and responsible manner, and that NWT residents realize the financial and economic benefits from development in their Territory.

This government has worked to put in place resources, tools and processes to prepare and advance our government, our people and our Territory to the point where we now have a Devolution and Resource Revenue Sharing Agreement-in-Principle within our reach.

On Friday it was reported in the media that the chief negotiators for Canada and the Northwest Territories have initialled a draft AIP and recommended it to their principals. Regional aboriginal governments have been invited and supported to participate in the negotiations leading up to this draft AIP.

The draft AIP is a substantial document and our negotiators have provided until October 31st for all

parties to consider the agreement and determine if they want to proceed as signatories.

In the meantime, I would like to provide NWT residents with an update on the progress that has been made on this file in recent months.

Mr. Speaker, early in this government I suggested devolution could be put on the back burner if we could not find enough common interest to continue negotiations. We found this common purpose at our regional aboriginal leaders table.

An inclusive negotiation process has progressed over the last two years involving representatives from all aboriginal governments, as well as the governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories.

We have actively worked in this forum towards a devolution and resource revenue sharing agreement that is in the interest of all NWT residents.

In September a draft agreement-in-principle was brought forward by our chief negotiators built on an agreement presented jointly to Canada in 2007 by the GNWT and four of our Territory’s aboriginal governments.

While a draft AIP is not binding, it provides the necessary parameters for negotiations leading to a final agreement on devolution and, at long last, the transfer of authority over public lands and waters in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, I have said all along that without devolution, our future remains more of the same: remaining dependent on Ottawa to make the major decisions about resource development in our Territory while watching the revenues from that development continue to flow south.

We have waited a long time to consider this critical step in our political development. We are at a sensitive and critical juncture in this process.

Regional aboriginal governments are determining their participation in a draft AIP. Members of this House are being briefed. It is important that all of us understand the magnitude and positive potential of this draft AIP.

In the weeks ahead, this government will provide more information on the AIP and its provisions. However, while a draft is under consideration by parties, I ask that we all respect and support the established process. Thank you.

Minister’s Statement 49-16(5): Devolution
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Roland. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Bob McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 50-16(5): Recognition Of Small Business Week
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is Small Business Week, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate entrepreneurs and their businesses across the Northwest Territories. I would also like to recognize Co-op Week and the 16 cooperatives that serve residents in the Northwest Territories.

Small businesses play a vital role in the economy of our communities and our Territory. They provide products, services, knowledge and skills that are the foundation of sustainable local economies and enhance our quality of life. Mr. Speaker, spend some time in any of our communities and you will find the heart of local economies lies with our entrepreneurs and the small and medium-sized businesses they operate.

As jurisdictions across Canada celebrate Small Business Week I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the contributions that these businesses make to the Northwest Territories economy. From the one person home-based business to the entrepreneur who took an idea and turned it into a business employing dozens of Northerners, our small and medium-sized enterprises consistently punch above their weight when it comes to the impact they have on our economy.

These businesses create jobs and wealth in all sectors and in all five regions of our Territory. Ranging from traditional economic activities like trapping and basket making to manufacturing and agriculture, we see the residents of the Northwest Territories taking advantage of the economic opportunities this land has to offer.

The Government of the Northwest Territories understands the vital role our small and medium-sized businesses play in keeping our economy vibrant and strong. That is why we have increased our investment in the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development Policy to $3.5 million for 2010-2011. That is why we have developed programs like the Tourism Product Diversification and Marketing Program, which has seen this government distribute more the $4 million in assistance to tourism businesses since 2007.

Mr. Speaker, one of the five goals of the 16th Legislative Assembly is to have a diversified economy that provides all communities and regions with opportunities and choices. It is an important goal and it is one this government remains focused on. Through our continued commitment to develop programs and services that help our small and medium-sized businesses succeed, and through the skill, intelligence and hard work of our entrepreneurs, we can realize that goal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 50-16(5): Recognition Of Small Business Week
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 51-16(5): Aboriginal Student Achievement
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is pleased to share news about the Aboriginal Student Achievement Initiative that focuses on increasing accomplishments of aboriginal students across the Northwest Territories.

The success of all students is important for the Northwest Territories. However, aboriginal students have been lagging behind non-aboriginal students. While we are making progress on this challenge, we nonetheless want to enhance the improvement.

Mr. Speaker, the initiative’s long-term goal is to develop and implement a territorial plan to help eliminate the achievement gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students. We need a plan to ensure all children have the opportunity to develop the skills, knowledge and ability needed for the future. I believe this plan will help us achieve a well-educated population able to meet the needs of our future economic well-being.

The Aboriginal Student Achievement Initiative Working Group was established in April 2009. Partners include Aurora College, district education councils, aboriginal governments, the NWT Literacy Council, the NWT Teachers’ Association, the Native Women’s Association, and the departments of Justice and Health and Social Services. The working group helped direct the initiative’s focus and developed the following priorities:

early childhood and child care;

student and family support;

literacy;

and

aboriginal language curriculum and resource development.

Mr. Speaker, with the assistance from the divisional education councils, I am holding a Minister’s forum in each region this school year. We are using the working group’s priorities as the basis to facilitate discussion and partnerships with and between local and regional aboriginal and education leaders.

The first regional meeting took place in the Sahtu region from September 28th to the 30th . It went very

well and had a great turnout. Many community and regional leaders attended all three days of discussions, including my colleague MLA Mr. Norman Yakeleya. The level of engagement from the participants was outstanding, with support for building community connections as a common theme.

Community forums held on the third day of meetings gave special attention to looking at what can be done at the local level. Aboriginal leaders and educators from the same communities identified education issues and developed plans of action. Attendees made a commitment to start moving on plans and working toward short-term goals.

We intend to keep Members informed of our progress as we work towards healthier, successful aboriginal students and informed, involved parents and community partners.

We also want to commend the Aboriginal Student Achievement Initiative Working Group for developing the important priorities to improve student success.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to participating in more discussion on aboriginal student success over the next several months at the regional Minister’s forums. We have already made progress and I’m eager to see our students improve even more in the future. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 51-16(5): Aboriginal Student Achievement
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The honourable Minister of Health and Social Services, Ms. Lee.

Minister’s Statement 52-16(5): Family Violence
Ministers’ Statements

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Family violence is the deliberate use of force to control another person. Abusers do not just lose their tempers or simply have problems with anger management, they choose to hurt and control their victims.

Family violence is a community issue; it takes a community response. I would like to highlight two initiatives that the Department of Health and Social Services has spearheaded with the Coalition Against Family Violence as a part of the NWT Family Violence Action Plan Phase II.

Mr. Speaker, the first is the recent release of Supporting Northern Women. This curriculum is a sustainable in-house training resource for front-line shelter workers. It is also useful to any professional working with clients who have experienced family violence. Developing this curriculum took a collaborative effort between non-government organizations and government to build capacity for shelter workers across the NWT. Our shelters provide emergency housing, safety planning and help with the applications for emergency protection orders. Because of them, women and children have a safe place to live while they think about what their next best step is.

Mr. Speaker, the second initiative that I would like to draw your attention to is the recent work undertaken by the Yellowknife Interagency Family Violence Protocol Committee. This committee

works to develop a more coordinated response to adult victims of family violence and is made up of representatives from various government departments and front-line service provider agencies.

Mr. Speaker, in 2009 the committee began to implement the use of the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment in family violence cases, known as ODARA. ODARA is a very simple to use risk assessment tool that calculates whether a man who assaulted his partner will assault her again in the future. It is useful in safety planning with women and can be used during bail hearings and court processes. ODARA allows service providers from a wide variety of backgrounds to talk about risk in the same way. They can make more consistent and informed decisions about the best way to help clients. Strong leadership is important to this project. Since 2009, 99 front-line workers, 140 RCMP members and 17 Crown prosecutors from across the NWT have been trained to use ODARA. Another train-the-trainer session will be held later this month. This tool will also be useful with other initiatives that are being developed, like the program for men who use violence.

Mr. Speaker, family violence is a serious matter. It is important for all of us to send the message that it is not acceptable. It does not happen by accident. Abusive people know exactly what they are doing. We need to treat family violence as deliberate. Wellness is a goal identified under our strategic document A Foundation for Change, more specifically increasing support and services for people who experience family violence.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased with the work that is being done to fight family violence. I know we are on the right track and are making a real difference in the lives of the victims and their families. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 52-16(5): Family Violence
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Lee. The honourable Premier, Mr. Roland.

Minister’s Statement 53-16(5): Minister Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

Inuvik Boot Lake

Floyd Roland Premier

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Michael Miltenberger will be absent from the House today, tomorrow and Wednesday to attend the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Thank you.

Minister’s Statement 53-16(5): Minister Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Common Sense Approach To Health Care Delivery Decisions
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to address the issue of common sense in health care delivery decisions and the opportunity to save money and improve outcomes.

Starting with an example, my constituent`s daughter is currently a student in Victoria. She has the basic NWT health coverage which is available to students. She has a history of stage 4 cancer beginning at age seven and her survival is considered a bit of a miracle. Now 27, she learned that because of treatment received, she is at risk for developing a secondary cancer. She was asked to go to Vancouver this fall for a follow-up at the B.C. Cancer Agency.

Medical Travel advised that the ferry trip, food and accommodation would not be provided since she was not a resident in Yellowknife. Further inquiries to the Inuvik office confirmed that no funding would be provided. They did note that if she was a resident in Yellowknife, her flights to and from Edmonton would be covered, as well as some living expenses. Mr. Speaker, this would have cost far more than a return ferry trip to Vancouver. Where is the common sense here?

Inuvik confirmed that this same scenario occurred to a student in Grande Prairie last summer. How is it that students are not properly covered when they go away to school? There is a similar lack of common sense in the situation with the MS patient in Hay River that is profiled by my colleague for Hay River South.

Mr. Speaker, there is a desperate need for some flexibility and horse sense here. Everyone understands the needs for rules and routine procedures, but why can we not institute a process for bumping up decisions when there are clearly options for reduced cost and better medical outcomes such as prevention, early diagnosis or treatment?

Every one of my colleagues have been frustrated with situations brought to the Minister where savings, prevention and better medical treatment could have been achieved, but because it was against the rules, the Minister claims she cannot make an exception. At a minimum, we need a process that gives a patient the option of coming up with cheaper medical travel when travel is needed, and the opportunity for system approval of this. Savings might be from a closer location for treatment, a less costly though perhaps a bit slower form of travel, or just staying at a friend’s, with compensation that is much reduced from that of a hotel room.

Mr. Speaker, let’s put some common sense and flexibility into our health system. Let’s change our preference from bureaucracy to a strong focus on prevention, resolution of medical issues and opportunities for reduced costs. Mahsi.

Common Sense Approach To Health Care Delivery Decisions
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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