This is page numbers 4527 - 4554 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 territories.

Topics

The House met at 10:07 a.m.

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Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good morning, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. It’s nice to see all the green in the House today.

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Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. Robert McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 86-16(4): Best Wishes To Brendan Green
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today we are wearing green to celebrate a milestone in northern history that will take place in Whistler, British Columbia, when Brendan Green of Hay River becomes the first Northwest Territories resident to compete in the Olympic Games since 1984 when Sharon and Shirley Firth competed in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

---Applause

In about two and a half hours, Brendan and his teammates will compete in the men’s 4 by 7.5 kilometre biathlon relay at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games starting at 12:30 p.m. The race is scheduled to be broadcasted on TSN, and will attract millions of viewers worldwide.

On behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories, I would like to congratulate Brendan on this monumental accomplishment and I would like to recognize the hard work and dedication he has shown to achieve this incredible goal.

Mr. Speaker, high performance athletes often train six to ten hours a day. They must adhere to a rigid schedule of competing and training year round if they hope to be the best in their sport. This type of commitment is expensive, given the travel, equipment and training that’s required for this level of sport.

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and our partner, the Sport North Federation,

have been strong supporters of Brendan and other NWT elite athletes through the High Performance Athlete Grant Program.

The program, which provides up to $15,000 annually to high performance athletes to help offset training and travel costs, has supported Brendan for the past five years to help him compete at the Winter Olympics this very day.

Mr. Speaker, to quote Brendan Green in a statement he made recently: “The North is full of potential for athletes. Growing up in rural town is not an obstacle for athletes, but an asset. You develop an extended family of community members, coaches and volunteers which support your training and achievements. That kind of support and encouragement is not available to athletes from big cities.”

Mr. Speaker, we are all extremely proud of Brendan and his accomplishments and the many others who strive for excellence to reach their dreams. I invite my colleagues to join me in wishing Brendan the best of luck today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 86-16(4): Best Wishes To Brendan Green
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Minister’s Statement 87-16(4): Northwest Territories Tourism 2010-11 Marketing Plan
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, tourism is a vital industry here in the Northwest Territories. It is our largest renewable industry, a $130 million sector that hosted 73,000 visitors in 2008-2009. It is also an industry that casts a wide net economically, as all our regions benefit from tourism activity.

Because of the importance and the potential of our tourism industry, it is critical that we market the Northwest Territories outstanding range of tourism products and that we consistently develop effective plans to do so.

Mr. Speaker, with that goal in mind, I’m extremely pleased with the results of Northwest Territories Tourism 2010-11 Marketing Plan, which will be tabled in the House today.

Northwest Territories Tourism was supported in its work by the Tourism Marketing Advisory Committee, which is made up of 10 members from

the tourism industry and two government representatives. The committee provides strategic direction each year to Northwest Territories Tourism on development of the marketing plan and the committee and Northwest Territories’ Tourism have an excellent relationship based on constructive dialogue and mutual respect.

I believe the 2010-11 Marketing Plan is an excellent one and it has benefited not only from the guidance of the Tourism Marketing Advisory Committee, but also from direct advice from our industry sectors.

Mr. Speaker, there is much our Territory has to offer the world when it comes to tourism experiences. For example, our Territory is known for its world-class sport fishing, aurora viewing, road touring, outdoor adventure and hunting. And as the marketing plan points out, the Northwest Territories is increasingly seen as a unique location for hosting small and medium-size meetings and conventions.

But the tourism industry is an extremely competitive one and we need to continually position ourselves as a travel destination of choice. The Northwest Territories Tourism 2010-11 Marketing Plan will help us accomplish this. The plan is about building on our achievements to realize our growth potential. It outlines the priorities for increasing tourism revenues within the Northwest Territories. It also identifies emerging markets, such as Mexico, Australia and South Korea, that could help our tourism industry grow. These initiatives and this information are important if we are to increase the size and scope of the tourism sector in every region of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, a prosperous tourism industry builds on what the Northwest Territories has to offer: a beautiful landscape, rich cultures and a willingness to share both of these with the world. It will contribute towards a Territory with a diversified and healthy economy that provides all regions and communities with choices as envisioned by the 16th Legislative Assembly through Northerners Working Together. That is why we must continue to focus on developing tourism here in the Northwest Territories. This marketing plan will go a long way toward helping the Government of the Northwest Territories to achieve this goal.

In closing, I would like to thank Northwest Territories Tourism and the Tourism Marketing Advisory Committee for the leadership and vision they have shown in developing this marketing plan. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 87-16(4): Northwest Territories Tourism 2010-11 Marketing Plan
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Minister’s Statement 88-14(4): Leadership For Literacy
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, the ability to read and use information is a basic skill necessary for students to reach their full potential in school and later in life. Research indicates that the main reason students do poorly in school is a lack of literacy skills. This can prevent them from understanding reading material in other subject areas. This is why increasing literacy levels in the Northwest Territories is one of the top priorities of the department.

There are literacy initiatives in schools across the Northwest Territories and this year Education, Culture and Employment staff are reviewing them to see what best practices might be used to increase literacy in all Northwest Territories schools. I want to draw the attention of the House to one such initiative in the South Slave region, recently highlighted in the Slave River Journal, that is making a difference for students and teachers. In 2007, the South Slave Divisional Education Council took action to increase reading levels in their schools and they developed the Leadership for Literacy program.

A key element of Leadership for Literacy is to focus on professional development opportunities for teachers and school staff. Full-time literacy coaches are in each South Slave school, helping train teachers in well-researched and proven strategies to increase literacy levels among their students. In addition to having literacy coaches in the schools, the strategy involves regularly assessing each student’s strengths and challenges so that instruction can be tailored to the needs of individual students.

I had the chance to see this program in action when I visited the South Slave in January and I was very impressed. Since the beginning of the Leadership for Literacy program, more students in the South Slave region are reading at, or above, grade level. In fact, 39 percent of the students who were assessed in both 2008 and 2009 showed significant improvement. In Lutselk’e we are seeing some of the best growth in reading levels in Canada, with nearly 10 percent of students in the community improving their reading ability by more than one grade level per year since 2007.

Much of this success is credited to the hard work and dedication of teachers and school staff who work tirelessly incorporating the new techniques they’ve learned in the classroom.

I want to close by thanking the South Slave Divisional Education Council and the teachers and literacy coaches in the region for the good work they are doing to improve literacy levels in their region. I will keep you informed of this and other school literacy initiatives in the coming months. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 88-14(4): Leadership For Literacy
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

The Sahtu Hockey Song
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I recently was informed that the community of Deline has been designated as a territorial historical site. In honour of that I’ve come up with a Sahtu hockey song that was written by Stompin’ Tom Connor. I won’t be able to sing, Mr. Speaker, but I’ll do my best.

Hello there, we’re on the air, it’s hockey night tonight. There’s confusion here, confusion there, so I’m here to set things right. On Grey Goose Lake, the snow was late, and the ice was smooth and clear. Someone roared, “Sir John scored,” the first hockey game was here.

Here’s the chorus here: Oh! The first ice hockey game, was played in Deline. And the best game you can name, is the good ol’ hockey game.

Second period! Many will say in their own strange way, hockey was born somewhere else. Stompin’ Tom didn’t know Sir John, so I write this song myself. Ontario, even Nova Scotia, tried to say their claim was true. But they were 20 years late, I got it straight, hockey was born in the Sahtu.

Chorus: Oh! The first ice hockey game, was played in Deline. And the best game you can name, is the good ol’ hockey game.

Third period! Oh, take me where on the shores of Great Bear Lake, where the record is clear, like the water and the air, the first hockey game was played. Mr. Speaker, the debate is done, let’s have some fun, let’s get on with the show. Around the Sahtu, colleagues, you can join in too, and we can all say go, Canada, go!

Chorus: Oh! The first ice hockey game, was played in Deline. And the best game you can name, is the good ol’ hockey game. He shoots, he scores! Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

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The Sahtu Hockey Song
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Policy
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, go Canada go!

Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Policy
Members’ Statements

Some Hon. Members

All right!

Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Policy
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

The Standing Committee on Social Programs recently received information on possible

changes to the new Supplementary Health Benefits Program. Now that I’ve had a bit of time to consider the presentation from the Minister, I’ve got some concerns that I want to express, unlike our Olympic team.

Firstly, I appreciate the research done by the department and the data received by the committee, but even though it’s good data, it’s been selected and presented to steer people’s responses in a particular direction. The documents for review contain certain assumptions -- although the Minister calls them observations -- that are leading. It’s like the department has already determined a preferred course of action and is using these assumptions to guarantee that the responses received verify that course of action.

The questions posed in the discussion documents intended to stimulate answers from residents also follow the same pattern. They’re multiple choice questions, but the choices are limited, and again seem to indicate a predetermined course of action. What is missing is the opportunity for NWT residents, especially those due to be affected by these changes, to freely discuss options for change with the department or the Minister. Nowhere in the documents are there open-ended questions which would allow creative and innovative suggestions and ideas. That option must be provided before any decision on changes take place.

There is a clear lack of involvement of stakeholders in the research and development phase of the data on which the paper is based. The working group established by the Minister was not involved until after the data had been collected and screened for publication. They were like committee presented with only some of the data; data which steers us to certain conclusions.

The implementation date must be pushed back to April 1, 2011. The timeline proposed by the Minister is way too aggressive to allow for adequate consultation. There’s a need for more than the one set of town hall meetings currently scheduled. The first will serve to provide people with information on the proposed changes so they can properly understand them, but there must be another set of meetings after residents have had time to digest that information to hear their responses and receive input. That requires more than the one month identified in the Minister’s current schedule.

The changes to this program could have substantial impact on NWT residents. Our job demands that we take the necessary time and do it right the first time.

Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Policy
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Jacobson.