This is page numbers 4463 - 4502 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 health.

Topics

The House met at 1:39 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Bob McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 83-16(4): Residency Survey Of Diamond Mine Employees
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to update my colleagues on an important publication that has come out of the Northern Mining Workforce Initiative Memorandum of Understanding: the 2009 NWT Survey of Mining Employees. Later today, at the appropriate time, I will be tabling the document.

But before I speak about the survey, I would like to talk briefly about the memorandum of understanding itself, which was signed in 2008. This document is a platform for the Government of the Northwest Territories and our three diamond mines -- BHP Billiton Canada Inc., Diavik Diamond Mines Inc., and De Beers Canada Inc. -- to work together on issues regarding our mining workforce.

Mr. Speaker, two of the memorandum of understanding’s most important objectives are to improve the mining skills of Northwest Territories residents and to attract and retain our residents so that as many diamond mine employees as possible are from the Northwest Territories.

A steering committee, which includes leadership from the three diamond mines, the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment and myself, guide three working groups to achieve these objectives: one for training, one for transportation and one for residency. Industry, Tourism and Investment has been focused on the residency working group and how to attract and retain Northwest Territories resident employees at the diamond mines.

This survey is the first major step towards meeting this objective. Industry, Tourism and Investment and the diamond mines collaborated extensively with the Northwest Territories Bureau of Statistics to develop a questionnaire that would provide clear data on what motivates diamond mine employees on whether or not to live in our Territory.

Employees from all three diamond mines, and the employees of contractors for two of the mines, took part in the survey. In total, 1,705 people responded; a phenomenal response rate of 93.5.percent. The survey also broke the diamond mines’ workforce up into four groups: residents originally from the Northwest Territories; non-residents who have moved here; non-residents who once lived in the Northwest Territories but now live elsewhere; and non-residents who have never lived here.

Surveying these four different groups will help the Government of the Northwest Territories and the diamond mines understand the challenges of recruitment and retention of each group. It will also help us understand how to best direct our efforts to increase the size of the northern resident workforce.

The survey produced some very useful findings. It found that recreational opportunities, closeness to family and friends, competitive pay and benefits and cost of living are all key factors when diamond mine employees consider moving to or from the North.

Mr. Speaker, this is valuable work. The information in this survey has provided all the partners with useful data that we can use to help solve the challenges facing us as we try to increase the number of diamond mine employees that live in the Northwest Territories. It’s an example of how this memorandum of understanding is providing results that are beneficial to the Territory.

Industry, Tourism and Investment, Education, Culture and Employment and the diamond mines are now taking the survey’s findings and considering what steps can be taken to act on the valuable information provided in the report.

Mr. Speaker, there are some significant challenges to increasing our northern workforce at the diamond mines. But there are also significant opportunities. And it is work like the 2009 NWT Survey of Mining Employees that will be a starting point for the

memorandum of understanding partners in coming up with creative ways to meet those challenges and embrace those opportunities so that we can continue to build a Territory with a diversified economy that provides all regions and communities with choices. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 83-16(4): Residency Survey Of Diamond Mine Employees
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister of Justice, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 84-16(4): Improving Policing Services And Welcoming The New Commanding Officer
Ministers’ Statements

February 24th, 2010

Monfwi

Jackson Lafferty Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to update the House on the Department of Justice’s work to improve policing services across the Territory.

I would first like to recognize the new commanding officer of the Northwest Territories “G” Division, Chief Superintendent Wade Blake. Chief Superintendent Blake has 29 years of experience in the RCMP. Residents of Fort Smith will recognize him from his posting there from 1989-1992. He is well known for his commitment to alternative justice approaches and community policing. He is very familiar with the needs of small aboriginal communities without on-site detachments and has spent significant amounts of time working on family violence issues and crime prevention. I am confident that he is the right person to lead our Territory’s police force right now.

I would also like to thank our outgoing commanding officer, Chief Superintendent Tom Middleton, who is also retiring.

---Applause

Under his leadership, we opened a new detachment in Sachs Harbour and added new officers to police Gameti and Wrigley. We created new positions to do enhanced patrols to communities without detachments. We also worked with leadership in the South Slave region to place a new police services dog and handler into Hay River. We very much appreciate Chief Superintendent Middleton’s services and wish him well in his retirement.

Policing service to small communities is a priority for this government. This year we’ve invested $32 million into the RCMP. Later in 2010, we’ll have a new kind of support for detachments; or you might call it a traditional kind of support. The former Special Constable, now Community Officer, program is coming back. The program is being updated and training starts this fall for the one-year pilot project. We have three seats in the first troop to go through Depot. These officers will enhance our detachments, help our patrols and work on restorative justice initiatives. They’ll also strengthen the role of communities in prevention and

enforcement. I can’t wait to shake the hands of the first graduates.

The Community Officer Program is an example of how we can pursue and support northern approaches to policing. With the other northern Ministers of Justice, I have repeatedly emphasized the need for a territorial policing policy framework. The three territories have decided to work together for a new model for policing in the North, one that acknowledges our uniqueness, builds on our strengths and fosters stronger relationships with our communities. We want to increase resources to support victims and develop new partnerships to combine our efforts at the community level and build community capacity. Our new commanding officer has significant experience in all of these issues and will be key to that work. I welcome him and his family back to the Northwest Territories and look forward to working with him. Mahsi.

Minister’s Statement 84-16(4): Improving Policing Services And Welcoming The New Commanding Officer
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Recognition Of The Achievements Of Weledeh Educators
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you. Mr. Speaker. I want to take the occasion today to speak about Education Week, and we draw attention to the people at the heart of our education system, our teachers. While the Weledeh riding can’t claim to have a monopoly on teaching excellence, we do boast some of the very best and I’ll name just a few.

Amanda Mallon’s career is a catalogue of achievement: 22 years as a teacher, past president of the NWT Teachers’ Association, four time Canadian Teachers’ Association vice-president, winner of the NWTTA’s Cliff King Award, YK Education District No. 1 executive and committee memberships. There isn’t time to mention them all.

Angela James, the principal of the K’alemi Dene School in Ndilo has been repeatedly recognized for her superb contributions to education: Canadian Association Principal of the Year in 2009, named one of that association’s outstanding principals the previous year and truly the driving force of K’alemi Dene’s remarkable success story.

Eileen Erasmus, also at K’alemi Dene School, is a winner of this year’s Prime Minister’s Certificate of Excellence in Education. Her devotion to improving the lives and education of at-risk students and in enriching the vitality of Weledeh culture make her a model of dedicated community leadership.

Mindy Willett has lived and taught across the North, shared her rich experience through educational

consulting and contributed to the literature of the North through her authorship and community engagement. Her leadership role in Canadian Youth Abroad and the Arctic Youth Abroad programs is exemplary.

Mary Rose Sundberg is an honoured pioneer in interpreting/translating skills development and certification and has recently expanded the community-based delivery of aboriginal language education through the creation of the Goyatiko Language Society based in Ndilo. A local advocate for aboriginal language enrichment, she was a key participant in the recently developed Languages Strategy.

Mr. Speaker, Helen Balanoff, heading up the NWT Literacy Council; Scott Willoughby leading the On-the-Land Program at Sir John; Barb Cameron at Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. These are just a few of the people who, one by one, build our future by building the education of our youth. I ask you to join with them in saluting their achievements and those of all educators in Weledeh riding and across the Northwest Territories. Mahsi.

Recognition Of The Achievements Of Weledeh Educators
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Northern Location Of Federal Penitentiary
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, Yesterday, we had the Minister of Justice in front of us during Committee of the Whole and I wanted to expand on a couple of items related to the Department of Justice that I brought to his attention.

The first is an issue that I’ve discussed with him previously and that is the fact that there are a number of aging penitentiaries across this country that sooner or later the federal government will have to replace and look at building a new federal penal institution somewhere in this country. My belief and desire is for that facility to be located here in the Northwest Territories. Imagine for a moment what a federal penitentiary built in one of our larger communities, like Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River, or Inuvik, would mean to that community. Between 300 and 400 jobs, spin-off business opportunities and contracts for local businesses, a marked increase in our population, which would translate directly into a larger revenue stream through the Territorial Formula Financing Agreement.

I was very surprised when the Justice Minister yesterday stated on page 75 of unedited Hansard, “We haven’t really raised that issue at the federal level as of yet because we were dealing with the courthouse a while back and we had to set our priorities.” The Minister’s comments are very

disconcerting. Firstly, he has not raised the issue of a penitentiary here in the Northwest Territories at the federal level in the past year when we know that the issue of a courthouse has fallen off the government’s radar.

Which brings me to the courthouse issue. My inclination is to say we are making a big mistake by not pursuing a new courthouse facility. The reality is that part of the maturation process our government is still undergoing will require us to build a public institution for the judiciary. The legislative, executive, and judicial branches are the very building blocks of a parliamentary democracy. As a government, we cannot continue to ignore the needs of our judiciary. As a government, we have spent millions of dollars and probably paid for the current facility at least 10 times over.

This facility that 20 years ago may have been adequate today is just not meeting the growing needs and demands of our judiciary. There are serious concerns over space constraints, space utilization, and security. Eventually a new courthouse will have to be built. There seems to be no end in sight to the escalating construction costs to build infrastructure in this Territory. We need to find a way to get this project back on our capital plan.

Northern Location Of Federal Penitentiary
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Northern House And NWT Day At The 2010 Olympics
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to use my Member’s statement today to comment on a recent experience: the opportunity I had to travel to Vancouver to represent the NWT last Friday, NWT Day at the Olympics, and to take in the marvellous Olympic atmosphere in that city over the weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I stated that the money expended by our government for participation in the Olympics has been money well spent. Now, more than ever, I believe that to be correct. Friday morning, attending MLAs were given a tour of our Northern House and, as Members have heard before, it’s an impressive venue. The quality of the exhibits is top notch and the layout, the artistic quality, just works. Several times as we wandered around Northern House I found myself thinking this is home. This feels like home, it looks like home.

Northern House represents the NWT very well. Visitors get a good sense of our Territory. I have to give huge credit to those whose vision developed Northern House, to those who had the courage to think beyond the ordinary to build Northern House into the striking venue that it is. I have to add that I

think government would do well to think the same way on many occasions.

Capping off a very vibrant day of activities was the NWT Day performance at B.C. Place prior to the medal ceremonies that night. Titled The Drum: The Heartbeat of the North, it was a real treat for those of us who were there to see it live. I found it to be a varied, passionate, professional performance; an excellent showcase for our home-grown northern talent and culture. I want to congratulate all the participants in the medal ceremonies show on their quality work and on putting on a great show.

While I was in Vancouver I found the city to be a bit of a zoo. There were quite literally thousands of people roaming the streets at all hours of the day and half the night. It seemed rather like one big happy party, a celebration of Canada and our athletes. I’ve never seen so many red Canada shirts in one place at one time. At any sporting event when Team Canada was competing, there was nothing but a sea of red. I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder to be Canadian and seeing the pride in everyone around me made me proud.

After I arrived home yesterday people kept asking me about the trip. How was it, they say. I can only answer, it was great. Truly enjoyable, if tiring, but a chance to take in a unique event, a chance we don’t all get and I’m grateful for my chance.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Northern House And NWT Day At The 2010 Olympics
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

My thanks go to the GNWT staff who set up all the details for my trip. My thanks go to VANOC, the Olympic Committee, for hosting us so well, for welcoming and pampering us as they did. I hope that I and the NWT will get the chance to return the favour sometime in the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Northern House And NWT Day At The 2010 Olympics
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Relationship Between The Minister And Health Authorities
Members’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, a lot of times Member’s stand up raising issues and questions from their ridings and not getting the answers that they’d like. Mr. Speaker, we cannot hide behind the authorities of boards, regardless if it’s a health board or an education board, as a reason the Minister can’t do anything.

Mr. Speaker, it’s clear in the NWT Health Act that the Minister can do something by way of directives to the Department of Health, the service boards, regardless if it’s the Inuvik Health Board, and also instruct them to carry out certain activities. It’s in the

legislation by the directive and with other written instructions issued by a Minister that they can move on some of these issues.

I know I’ve raised issues in this House, like the Minister stated yesterday, day after day, year after year, in regard to getting a nurse for Tsiigehtchic. Yet, the Minister’s response yesterday: “well, we do provide services.” It’s clear in the legislation that they do have to have functional facilities in regard to how we carry out our programs. Mr. Speaker, it’s also been in the directive that the Minister may, to ensure that the Territories, to ensure that adequate standards are maintained for the facilities, which means it has to be a functional facility. You can’t have a functional facility if you don’t have anybody in it to provide the services. And, again, it’s in the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, it’s frustrating for Members on this side of the House to do our job for the people we represent to bring their issues to the table of this House and ask the important questions, especially when it comes to the health and well-being of our communities. Again, Mr. Speaker, it is frustrating for the people back home hearing no from Ministers that they think have some powers. I think it’s critical that the Ministers carry out their ministerial responsibilities through a ministerial directive, a written response to the health boards or education boards to do exactly what’s been directed of them so that they can act on the situation.

We spend over a billion dollars a year, but we cannot act from that side of the House to do a simple thing like get a nurse in the community, but we can spend $2 million to operate facilities that we just built. Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time I will be asking the Minister questions on the powers that she has under the NWT Health Act.