This is page numbers 3981 - 4022 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 caribou.

Topics

The House met at 1:35 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber, I’d like to draw your attention to the public gallery and the presence of a former Member, a former Speaker of this House, Mr. Sam Gargan, who is with us.

---Applause

Also, colleagues, the Member for Great Slave, Mr. Abernethy, has been away from the House recently. Last week Mr. Abernethy travelled to Calgary to undergo an emergency medical procedure. I am pleased to advise the House that this procedure was a success.

---Applause

Mr. Abernethy will be returning to Yellowknife tonight, but will require some time to recover. On behalf of all Members, I want to wish him well and a speedy recovery. I know he is very anxious to get back to work and will do so as soon as he gets the green light from his health care professionals.

Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Justice, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 57-16(4): Referring The Questions Of Authority To Regulate Caribou Harvesting
Ministers’ Statements

Monfwi

Jackson Lafferty Minister of Justice

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, the government is concerned about the long-term health of the Bathurst caribou herd; so concerned, in fact, that my colleague the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources enacted an outright hunting ban in an area covering the herd’s wintering grounds.

Mr. Speaker, it is the view of our government that the authority to make such regulations is clearly held by the Government of the Northwest Territories; without that conviction, we could not have acted, It is also clear that the Dene Nation and some aboriginal governments do not believe that to be true. We have even heard some Members of

this Assembly express doubts about the legislative base of the government they are part of.

Mr. Speaker, even when the people do not agree with their government all the time, it is important that they should trust that their government acts in their interest and within its powers, This matter before us, the long-term health of the barren-ground caribou is critical and requires immediate action. In taking action, it is also important that we ensure the people of the Northwest Territories have the same clear understanding of which government holds the necessary authority to protect barren-ground caribou.

For that reason, Mr. Speaker, with the support of Cabinet, I will be referring a question to the NWT Supreme Court and the Legal Questions Act, asking it to rule on the Government of the Northwest Territories’ legislative authority to regulate aboriginal hunting of barren-ground caribou.

The question that I will refer to the court is about the authority the Government of the Northwest Territories holds to regulate hunting by aboriginal people of barren-ground caribou. This is about clarifying for the public and for aboriginal governments in the Northwest Territories, which order of government holds the authority to act, to ensure the long-term health of the barren-ground caribou herds in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, at a later date, I will provide information for Members about the process that will be followed in addressing this question. While I cannot speak for how the court will act, or when, I believe the process will be inclusive and produce a timely result. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 57-16(4): Referring The Questions Of Authority To Regulate Caribou Harvesting
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Minister’s Statement 58-16(4): Youth Smoking In The NWT: Descriptive Summary For Smoking Behaviour Among Grades 5 To 9 Students
Ministers’ Statements

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, later today I will table the Youth Smoking in the NWT: Descriptive Summary for Smoking Behaviour Among Grades 5 to 9 Students report. This is a summary of findings from the NWT School

Tobacco Survey, The first survey was conducted in 1982 and is carried out every four to five years. The purpose of the report is to monitor youth smoking behaviour and related issues.

Mr. Speaker, Youth Smoking in the NWT: Descriptive Summary for Smoking Behaviour Among Grades 5 to 9 Students reflects Health and Social Services ongoing efforts to curb smoking initiation rates at a young age.

The NWT School Tobacco Survey was made possible with assistance from the students in grades 5 to 9, their teachers, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and the regional education authorities.

Mr. Speaker, the report shows a number of positive results, The prevalence of youth smoking declined considerably from 1982 to 2006. The downward trend could be attributed to changing attitudes towards smoking as a result of our anti-smoking programs such as the Don’t be a Butthead campaign.

Some highlights of the reports include:

Over the past 25 years, fewer youth have tried smoking or currently smoke.

The overall prevalence of smoking among 10 to 14 year olds is declining: a 19 percent decrease in the prevalence of youth smoking over the past seven years.

Tobacco awareness programs are undertaken on a school-wide basis to educate all students about the adverse affects of tobacco use, Ninety-six percent of students in the NWT reported receiving some type of smoking-related education during the past school year.

Mr. Speaker, wellness is a basic goal identified in our Foundation for Change strategic document. Tobacco use is a common predisposition to many chronic diseases which diminishes one’s quality of life over time. Tobacco reduction is a personal responsibility. Health and Social Services supports quitting through education efforts. Tobacco use is addictive, it is easier to avoid use at the beginning than trying to quit in the end.

We encourage communities, families and individuals to make healthy choices. When residents choose to never start smoking, they are meeting this goal.

Mr. Speaker, this Youth Smoking in the NWT: Descriptive Summary of Smoking Behaviour Among Grades 5 to 9 Students is available in printed format from the Department of Health and Social Services and is posted on their website, I would like to invite everyone to take a look, Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 58-16(4): Youth Smoking In The NWT: Descriptive Summary For Smoking Behaviour Among Grades 5 To 9 Students
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Minister’s Statement 59-16(4): Outstanding Principal And Vice-Principal
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, across the Northwest Territories there are many school administrators who are leaders in their communities and who work hard to ensure that teachers, students and school staff have the resources they need to be successful, They all deserve our gratitude, and today I have the opportunity to highlight the work of two such leaders.

I am very proud of the fact that two administrators from Sir Alexander Mackenzie School in Inuvik are being honoured with national awards for their leadership. This year Janette Vlanich is being recognized as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals by the Learning Partnership for the difference she makes in the lives of students and the community of Inuvik. While there are many reasons to celebrate Janette, of particular importance is her work helping to develop a successful literacy program and supporting aboriginal languages and culture in the community, Her membership in this year’s select group of 32 outstanding educational leaders serves as an inspiration to her peers not only across the Northwest Territories, but across Canada.

Even as Janette is being recognized as one of the outstanding principals, Jason Dayman, vice-principal of Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, is being honoured by the Canadian Association of Principals with the National Herff Jones Vice-Principal of the Year Award. Jason is driven by a strong belief that culturally relevant programming helps students achieve success in school. While at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School, he’s committed himself to developing a permanent culture camp for students and fostering strong relationships with community elders, creating opportunities for them to share their knowledge with students, He has also worked in partnership with Parks Canada and the Department of Fisheries developing on-the-land programs for students. With his big boat and skidoos, he has facilitated many rich learning opportunities for these young people.

I want to thank Janette and Jason for their leadership and commitment to excellence and congratulate them to the honours they are receiving. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 59-16(4): Outstanding Principal And Vice-Principal
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The honourable Premier, Mr. Roland.

Minister’s Statement 60-16(4): Minister Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

Inuvik Boot Lake

Floyd Roland Premier

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

Minister’s Statement 60-16(4): Minister Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Department Of Education Advertising Campaign
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I opened the News/North today and this may not be the first time this ad has run, Mr. Speaker, but I was struck by this full page ad which says -- if I can just read it, it’s very brief -- “Empty Stomachs Make Empty Brains. Your kids cannot concentrate with growling stomachs. Everyone needs a healthy breakfast to start the day. Sponsored by the Northwest Territories Department of Education, Culture and Employment.”

Mr. Speaker, I find this ad offensive and I would suggest that if it’s run for very many times, it’s very expensive. Mr. Speaker, this government has way too much money to spend if they can take out full pages in the local newspaper for an ad like that.

Mr. Speaker, we know that we need many, many things in our education system and one of them is children who are healthy and fed and ready to learn, But, Mr. Speaker, we have Mr. Jacobson standing up here talking about the fact that we have no funding for a teacher in Sachs Harbour; we have other Members standing up and talking about the many, many needs in our community. I find it amazing and, as I said, this government has way too much money if they have money to spend on something like this.

This message means nothing to anyone who will read it. As a matter of fact, saying that if your stomach is empty, so is your brain, is an offense to somebody who doesn’t have enough to eat, as far as I’m concerned. I think people who are hungry can still think.

Mr. Speaker, if there are parents who don’t know that their children should not go to school hungry, this is a rather cold way of sending a message to them. Maybe ECE would be better to talk to their counterparts and figure out a way to sponsor a milk subsidy program so that children in communities where milk is an expensive commodity could have their diets supplemented with something that is nutritious. I find this ad, as I said, Mr. Speaker, not a very good use and expenditure of government

money. Later today, I would like to ask the Minister of ECE who came up with this campaign, who designed this campaign, who created that wording, how much did this cost the government. This kind of thing has got to stop. We have more pressing issues. Thank you.

Department Of Education Advertising Campaign
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Beaulieu.

Frustrations Regarding Housing Corporation Program Delivery
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. [English translation not provided.]

Today I would like to talk, once again, about the frustrations that many of my constituents have with the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, many of these constituents are elders, single mothers, young couples trying to make ends meet to raise a family and many of them rely on income support. It’s a tough situation that they are in. As their MLA, I have seen firsthand the conditions of many of these units and when I meet with them in their homes, Mr. Speaker, I hear desperation in their voices.

I, too, have become frustrated with the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation because it seems that I am not making any progress with the issues that I bring forward. Mr. Speaker, I feel that the NWT Housing Corporation continues to neglect an important element when delivering housing programs and that is taking into account full consideration and factors of individual situations.

This means incorporating creativity and flexibility needed to effectively work with desperate clients, Mr. Speaker. As it is now, for many of my constituents in Fort Resolution and Lutselk’e the policies are flawed, Mr. Speaker, it continues to be almost a daily practice if I am not following up on housing issues already in the system, then I’m bringing forth new housing issues, From there, it’s fairly predictable what happens. I get back a response that says they are unable to help. They owe money or they don’t own the land that their house has been sitting on for several years, many years, in some cases since the ‘80s.

Mr. Speaker, by the time I am able to make some headway on some of these issues, the construction season has passed. The domestic situation for our clients has changed, which means a whole application process and, unfortunately, in a few cases the constituents actually pass away before their issues can be brought before the Housing Corporation or before the Housing Corporation is able to assist them.

Mr. Speaker, there needs to be a change in attitude of the Housing Corporation, and in many of my

communities the Housing Corporation is seen as out of touch with the people’s needs.

When you live in a good home, make a good income in a regional centre or Yellowknife, there is a different attitude towards housing in places like Fort Resolution and Lutselk’e.

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

---Unanimous consent granted.

Frustrations Regarding Housing Corporation Program Delivery
Members’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

I thought the NWT Housing Corporation was there to help people, but so far it appears that that is not the case. I will have questions for the Minister of the Housing Corporation later on today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.