This is page numbers 4141 - 4178 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 4th 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 housing.

Topics

The House met at 10:06 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 Deputy Premier, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister’s Statement 69-16(4): Premier Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

Thebacha

Michael Miltenberger Deputy Premier

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Floyd Roland will be absent from the House today to attend events related to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 69-16(4): Premier Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Employment Opportunities In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my statement today is on economic development programs in Nunakput. In Nunakput communities every year we go through a huge time where youth have to leave the communities and go to places like Yellowknife or Inuvik. The primary reason this occurs is a lack of real jobs and opportunities for them in our home communities. This is a huge problem, Mr. Speaker. Our future, our communities are going to be a place where most of our people have holidays in the summer and where communities are empty of our youth.

The government needs to be active to assist communities with some serious programs and create jobs so our residents don’t have to leave our home communities. One concern always raised by constituents is that government doesn’t really care about our small communities, the residents believe it’s only because of the federal transfers.

All communities have to be treated equally because of our unique conditions. Our unique economic limitations are considered when allocating resources to various programs all across the North.

The unemployment situation in communities is very serious and this government has failed on this. There is a lack of hope for our youth in communities that I represent in Nunakput and this government has failed in this. Many communities have a revolving door system due to the lack of jobs whereby several people share a full-time job and then go on unemployment insurance. That, Mr. Speaker, is a shame.

The government needs to place more attention and resources on small, remote communities regarding the community-based economic development programs. These resources should assist the area such as providing community-based training and financial assistance. All over the country, companies are proving the geographic limitations are no longer, thanks to the increasing use of technology. People work from home or even in another province. For example, with the current technology in the Northwest Territories, like, Sachs Harbour could take part of a call centre, Mr. Speaker. This government should take advantage of technologies to assist and develop community-based businesses.

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

---Unanimous consent granted.

Employment Opportunities In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

This government should take full advantage of technologies to assist our community-based businesses and not send them to the South. We should look north.

Employment Opportunities In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Jacobson. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Nahendeh Residents Selected To Represent The NWT At The 2010 Olympics
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize the achievement of my constituents who were selected to represent the NWT at the Vancouver Olympics. They are: performers Gerry Antoine, a gifted Dene drummer from Fort Simpson, and Wesley Hardisty, a dynamic fiddler also from Fort Simpson. These men will be giving visitors from around the world a chance to enjoy our fine music from the North.

As well, our traditional arts and fine crafts will be showcased by Karen Cumberland from Fort Liard, who will be displaying the artistry of her birch bark basketry, and John Sabourin from Fort Simpson, who will be displaying his fascinating carvings and paintings.

Given the dedication of these musicians and artists to hone their talents and keep our culture alive, it is great to see them get such an opportunity to showcase this to the world.

As well, six youth ambassadors will also be representing us: Ms. Cheryl Bertrand, Mr. Calvin Loman and Tyson McLeod from Fort Liard, Mallory Nirlungiak from Fort Simpson, Vanessa Sangris from Jean Marie River, and Bhreagh Ingarfield from Nahanni Butte.

All the best to our participants at the Olympics and I know that you will do our North proud.

Nahendeh Residents Selected To Represent The NWT At The 2010 Olympics
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

Opportunities To Access Federal Funding
Members’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We had a great opportunity to improve the quality of services in the 33 communities of the Northwest Territories. I’m talking about the stimulus funds, infrastructure funds, and Building Canada Funds. Out of the information that’s been provided, only 14 projects have been approved. A lot of the communities were not able to take full advantage of this program, either because they do not have the capacity to take it on or they don’t have the resources to match the 50 percent that’s needed to match those funds.

I think it’s critical that a government that’s responsible to 33 communities, not just the larger centres who are the people that have the capacity to put the proposals in, the people can match the funds because of the amount of gas tax they receive, but work with those communities that are challenged on how they can take advantage of federal program dollars. I, for one, feel that this government had a perfect opportunity to ensure that the communities throughout the Northwest Territories, 33 communities, could have taken advantage of a major capital investment of funds from the federal government and ensure that it was shared across the Territory. When I look at the information I’m totally appalled that this government did not ensure that every community in the Northwest Territories was able to take advantage of this program. Some communities were totally left out of approval of these important dollars.

With regard to the government’s way of handling communities, especially the small and rural or remote communities who were left off this list, we have to find ways around using the excuse that we

gave the money to the communities and it’s their responsibility to spend it as they wish. The money you give to communities is not even enough to haul a couple loads of gravel. As far as the gas tax is concerned, in some communities it’s as low as $28,000 a year. I think it’s important for this government to seriously look at what this government can do to improve the services in the small and remote communities so they can take advantage of these federal infrastructure dollars.

At the appropriate time I will be asking questions directed to the Deputy Premier.

Opportunities To Access Federal Funding
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Funding For Inclusive Schooling
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Some years ago the government introduced an Inclusive Schooling Policy. Over the years it’s become accepted practice for our schools to include every child in the classroom, no matter their mental or physical capability. Students in our schools who are special needs students range from those with minimal needs to those with very severe needs. Of these, according to a Canadian average, about 5 percent of these have severe needs for many different reasons. These children cannot manage in a classroom on their own and require a full-time aide to assist them every moment that they are in school.

The cost to the school board is about $70,000 per year to provide that aide. If a child is in school from kindergarten to grade 12 with perhaps an extra year or two required along the way, the cost to the board becomes enormous.

Yellowknife Education District No. 1 is the largest school system in the NWT and has excellent programs with excellent staff to handle their high needs special needs students. But in the last seven years, the district has seen a number of high needs special needs students, those who need a one-on-one aide, increase dramatically from seven or eight in 2004 to 25 in this school year, with another two expected next year. The percentage of special needs students who will need a full-time aide is increased from 4 percent in 2004 to almost 9 percent this year, twice the national average. Needless to say, if those student numbers increase, so do the costs. YK 1 is looking at less inclusive schooling dollars next year but more high needs students.

The GNWT provides an excellent level of funding to education authorities. Over the years, ECE has recognized the high cost of inclusive schooling. They have provided steadily increasing dollars to fund the implementation of the policy, until now that is. The 2010-11 budget before us proposes a reduction in inclusive schooling funding. Yellowknife

school boards are concerned. ECE’s funding formula assumes that high needs students are at 5 percent or less of a board’s total special needs student population. If that percent rises, the cost to provide the extra aide required is borne by the school board.

Yellowknife Education District No. 1 brought this concern to the attention of the Minister of Education almost a year ago, Mr. Speaker, but there doesn’t seem to be any recognition of the problem by the Minister and his department. Is this large increase in high needs students an anomaly for YK 1? It would seem so to them.

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

---Unanimous consent granted.

Funding For Inclusive Schooling
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Or is this perhaps a trend all NWT education authorities are experiencing? The only way to know for sure, Mr. Speaker, is to undertake an independent count of the severe needs students in NWT schools. It is highly unlikely there will be an even distribution amongst all schools, but that’s what the current funding formula assumes.

Boards with a higher incidence of severely disabled students must be funded to a higher level, Mr. Speaker. ECE needs to reconsider how education authorities are funded under the Inclusive Schooling Policy. Thank you.

Funding For Inclusive Schooling
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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