This is page numbers 4023 - 4060 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 school.

Topics

Ecole Allain St-Cyr School Expansion
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Beaulieu.

Student Absenteeism In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

February 9th, 2010

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

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

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about school absenteeism in the smaller aboriginal communities. Mr. Speaker, our dedicated educators in the smaller communities are continually faced with the challenges of getting students to attend school on a regular basis. There are many factors outside the school that contribute to this very serious problem. On this front, I know that community education councils in these communities are doing the best they can to address the issue. However, Mr. Speaker, there are many other community education issues that need more immediate attention. One such issue is funding.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know what we, as a government, are doing to address this issue. What type of supports does this government have in place for addressing the issue of absenteeism? What resources have we committed? What plans do we have in place that support the schools, that support the community education councils to help them address student absenteeism and to address the factors of student absenteeism?

Mr. Speaker, I know this could be a complex issue. For example, the problem could very well originate in the home and the quality of the parenting in the home with lack of support a child is getting or it could be a case of different cultures. Maybe some families in these smaller aboriginal communities are choosing to take their children out of school for certain periods of time to go out on the land to pass important traditional traditions on to their children.

Mr. Speaker, I hear this government making all kinds of effort for supporting industry, for supporting both renewable and non-renewable harvesting exploration extraction. I would like to see this government add to this effort and include additional and immediate support in the schools and education councils in the smaller aboriginal communities for addressing student absenteeism.

I can see this being a collective effort by the Department of Education and also the Department of Health and Social Services. Later today I will have questions for the Minister of Education. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Student Absenteeism In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Lack Of Adequate Dental Care In The Inuvik Region
Members’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have heard from several residents of the Inuvik region

about the lack of dental care in the Inuvik region. Without essential service, children and young adults are going without.

Mr. Speaker, dental care is just as important as health care. Mr. Speaker, the lack of adequate services in the Inuvik region are having to have families and family members pay their own way to Yellowknife at their own expense for their children to deal with braces. They see the oral dentists here in Yellowknife, Mr. Speaker, but, more importantly, they are bearing the costs. Again, they are not being reimbursed by the Department of Health and Social Services.

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is essential that that service be provided. Mr. Speaker, I have heard from one family where they waited for over three years for service. Three years is unacceptable, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Inuvik region hasn’t had an orthodontist in the region for some time. I think it is critical that that position be filled and it be filled as soon as possible. More importantly, Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Health has the responsibility to ensure that families and the residents of the Mackenzie Delta’s children will be taken care of with this important service.

Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time I will be asking the Minister of Health and Social Services questions on this matter and, more importantly, on the well-being of dental care for the people in the Inuvik region. Thank you.

Lack Of Adequate Dental Care In The Inuvik Region
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Access To Mental Health Services And Supports
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Minister of Health and Social Services has indicated, the Mental Wellness Week is February 7th to 13th . Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the news

this past week. I was very saddened to hear the report of the young mother in Millet, Alberta, that was going through a relationship breakup. In fact, they found her two children, her two little boys -- they showed a picture of them on the news -- and the two year old and the 10 month old were dead in her home. After that, she attempted to take her own life. Mr. Speaker, when I heard that story on the news, I thought to myself, what do we have here in the Northwest Territories that is different than those who live in a big city and are lost in that kind of milieu who would become so desperate? I have to assume that perhaps mental illness played a part in that or post-partum depression played a part in that.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is important that we as legislators and as a government do spend those resources to ensure that there is help out there for

people when they do go through situations of desperation or times of mental illness. I think that we also need to talk about it, so that we take away the stigma so that people do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to reach out and ask for help when they need it and to clearly and concisely communicate their needs.

Mr. Speaker, to that end, I want to tell you that many people look at me and think that I have accomplished a fair amount in my life and have on my now fourth term serving here in the Legislature. But I want to tell you that, as a young mother with two small boys myself, with news of stress of my mother being diagnosed with a terminal illness of cancer, at the age 27 I went through a period, a very dark period of post-partum depression, with two little boys and 3,000 miles from home in the Northwest Territories. Now, I had the good fortune of having a supportive husband and by the grace of God and with the help and support of a community, I did come out of that. As you can see, I have gone on to lead, I think, a very kind of normal and productive life. But, Mr. Speaker, I know what it is to be in those throes of being down and being desperate and being depressed.

So, Mr. Speaker, I want to encourage anybody who is out there, if you are in need, reach out for help from someone. This Helpline that the Minister spoke of today is there. There are people who do care. People need to be aware of that. I do commend the Minister for this initiative.

Access To Mental Health Services And Supports
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Early Childhood Development
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to speak today on one of my highest priorities, which is the need to give our children the best start in life both for their own sakes and for the good of our society.

In Canada it’s estimated that the loss of physical and intellectual development in childhood will reduce our economic productivity by 20 percent over the next 60 years. That toll of missed opportunity accumulates one child at a time. It can only be worse in the NWT, where poor access to childcare, rates of household poverty, and all the sad indicators of difficult lives are much higher.

Getting our children started on living a whole life has to be our biggest priority if we are to prosper fully in a realized society. Evidence from many progressive jurisdictions proves that the cost to government of child care support is repaid many times over. Increased worker productivity and tax revenues, reduced social assistance and social services costs, reduced crime, justice and correction costs, and the reduced impacts of

lifelong substance abuse are clear benefits. The building blocks for full early childhood development are clear and they include access to affordable childcare. Parents must work to provide well for their children, especially in the North. Food, clothing, recreational opportunities and learning. So they must have high-quality full- and part-time child care. Child care availability is that much harder in our small communities, where schools must play a key role.

Early childhood health services, healthy pregnancies, parenting skills support and infant health care provide the opportunities to promote healthy development in the critical first 18 months. Perhaps the most obvious need of all is adequate nutrition. It’s hard to have a healthy life without a healthy childhood. Adequate, nutritious food is the most basic need. In our conditions of poverty, that means child care must include nutritious meal programs, from daycare through the schools. And finally, healthy cultural grounding is essential. Meaning we must ensure children are reared in the culture that will support their lifelong growth and well-being.

Responsibilities for ensuring early childhood development are broad across the departments of ECE and Health and Social Services. I will be asking the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment questions regarding the state of early childhood development services to date.

Early Childhood Development
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

Impacts Of Housing Shortages On Northern Cost Of Living
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to start off today by thanking the NWT Construction Association, which held a meeting last Friday to talk about 300 homes for 300 families. They want to find a way to help attract people to the Northwest Territories. I must highlight that they’ve really sparked off the debate as to where some of our financial and long-term visions should lie. Certainly, they’ve nailed it down to one of the biggest problems we have here in the North. The Construction Association has clearly identified that housing is a serious problem here in the North and, certainly, housing availability is one of the problems I’m talking about.

This year Diavik announced an expansion of its communities that they will be picking up employees from. With that lies an opportunity for this government to say maybe we can expand the population of our Northwest Territories and work with these organizations and businesses that need more employees. The bottom line is they need more places to live.

If I provide a small snapshot, we recently heard the Minister of Finance talk about the 18 percent vacancy in the Northwest Territories government. We’ve heard that at least one mining sector would like to bring another 300 families to the Northwest Territories. We’ve always heard that the federal government would like to expand some of the opportunities here in the North by at least 100 federal families. Even if we just did a modest number, we could attract, of a three-person family, another 4,000 people here if we showed some real initiative by helping with the cost of living for development to help produce houses.

Recently we’ve heard some good vision from the Minister of ITI on the Look Up North campaign to attract southern workers to our northern environment. But the question really then lies: where would we put them? Nowhere. In some cases apartments are the solution for some people, but in other cases families would like homes. Money isn’t getting any cheaper at the bank rates. Why are we not taking a look at this seriously to help support our municipalities to expand land development, to help curb some of the costs of that development? The opportunity is right in front of us.

If numbers are what they want to hear, I will tell the Finance Minister, which he knows, that in the last budget cycle we had $25 million less in corporate and personal income taxes. If we attracted just the people I talked about, we’d have $27 million in new transfer payments according to the agreement we have today.

Later today I will have questions for the Minister responsible for cost of living, the Strategic Initiatives committee, and we’ll discuss the issues then.

Impacts Of Housing Shortages On Northern Cost Of Living
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Corrections Services Training And Recruitment
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last week the Minister of Justice made a statement on the success of a new approach to corrections training and recruitment and I wanted to say I was listening quite closely to that statement. The department has to be applauded for getting the Recruitment Program initiated. Sadly, the reality for aboriginal employees in corrections today is that some are still having a very difficult time at advancing their careers.

I have a constituent who is aboriginal, born and raised in the Northwest Territories. He’s worked in corrections for over 17 years. He has solid performance appraisals throughout his years in corrections and he’s getting very frustrated at consistently being passed over for advancement. He doesn’t understand it and neither do I.

His story is one that I have seen many times across government. We like to say that we’re hiring aboriginal people, but, really, what support, encouragement, training and planning is really taking place? Why aren’t we seeing more aboriginal persons in senior management roles with this government?

In my constituent’s case, he and his family are now planning on leaving the North. It really is troubling to know that we are losing long-term aboriginal employees to the South when they are consistently being passed over for advancement. The sad thing is that opportunities are going to individuals with no priority hiring status. This is just not right.

Seventeen years is a long time for an employee to keep trying to advance himself, applying on numerous positions to no avail, frustrated because he’s watching others with no priority hiring status getting hired. He’s watching direct appointments being made by the department and wonders how and why this continues to happen.

I’ll have questions for the Minister of Justice at the appropriate time.

Corrections Services Training And Recruitment
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker Paul Delorey

It’s always a pleasure to have Hay Riverites in the gallery and I’d like to recognize one of my constituents. Ms. Sandy Beaulieu is in the gallery today. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We’re going to beat our colleague here to recognizing his family. You have one of your constituents and I have one of mine too, our colleague, Mr. Beaulieu’s sister, Louise-Ann Larocque.