This is page numbers 4889 - 4926 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 5th 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 million.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Abernethy, Ms. Bisaro, Mr. Bromley, Hon. Paul Delorey, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Krutko, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Sandy Lee, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Michael McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. Menicoche, Hon. Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Ramsay, Hon. Floyd Roland, Mr. Yakeleya

The House met at 1:37 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 Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 30-16(5): Developing A Strategy For Supporting Aboriginal Languages Of The Northwest Territories
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am glad to inform the Members today of the work underway towards a new strategy for supporting the nine official aboriginal languages of the Northwest Territories.

In the late 1990s, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment consulted with communities about developing a long-term plan supporting our Territory’s traditional languages. The strategy, Revitalizing, Enhancing and Promoting Aboriginal Languages: Strategies for Supporting Aboriginal Languages, outlines what the government was doing in support of healthy aboriginal languages in our communities. It was meant as a “living document” and modified as aboriginal language communities continued explaining their needs, defining priorities and taking greater responsibility for achieving their language goals.

In 2008, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment proposed renewing the strategy. The first step in the process was conducting a review of the current strategy, identifying areas where it can be updated and improved. The final report was submitted in November of 2009.

At the end of March, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment hosted the Aboriginal Languages Symposium in Yellowknife. The symposium was a great success, drawing over 200 delegates representing official language

communities, including elders, youth, language speakers, practitioners and other stakeholders.

Over the three days of presentations, meetings and workshops, we heard many good and innovative ideas of how to increase support for our traditional languages. I was impressed by the level of passion and commitment in the room, especially from our elders who inspired us not to forget where we come from. The ideas generated at the symposium will be posted on the Department of Education, Culture and Employment website shortly and will play a key role in shaping the new strategy. I would like to acknowledge Mr. Kevin Menicoche, MLA for Nahendeh and the chair of the Standing Committee on Government Operations, for co-hosting the symposium with me. Moving forward, we are planning more meetings and will table the final strategy in the fall session of the Legislative Assembly.

Once finished, the new strategy will guide the Government of the Northwest Territories on decisions about policy, priorities and supporting aboriginal languages over the coming years.

I am confident that by continuing working together, we will see more Northerners proudly using the traditional languages of their cultures.

Mr. Speaker, as Minister responsible for languages, I am also very excited to announce that on June 22nd and 23rd, the Government of the Northwest Territories is hosting the Ministerial Conference on the Canadian Francophonie for the first time. This conference is being co-chaired with the federal Minister for Official Languages, the Honourable James Moore. Mahsi.

Minister’s Statement 30-16(5): Developing A Strategy For Supporting Aboriginal Languages Of The Northwest Territories
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Minister’s Statement 31-16(5): Endoscopy Blitz
Ministers’ Statements

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

Mr. Speaker, as outlined in the Department of Health and Social Services action plan, A Foundation for Change, we are taking actions to ensure the accessibility to health care services is optimized for NWT residents.

As Members are aware, the incidence of colorectal cancer in the Northwest Territories is among the highest in the country. Men are 1.5 times more likely, and women 1.3 times more likely, to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than their Canadian counterparts. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the Territory for both men and women. NWT Colorectal Cancer Advisory Committee in November 2009 report cites that 20 residents are diagnosed with this type of cancer each year in the NWT.

For this reason, in January of this year NWT Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines was issued by the department. The response to this important preventative measure has been very positive and has resulted in a long wait-list for endoscopy procedures. For non-urgent endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopy, gastroscopy and cystoscopy, the current wait-list for non-urgent procedure is up to two years.

To respond to this need and to reduce the wait times, I am pleased to announce today that the endoscopy blitz will take place in Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik. This involves the work of both local and locum specialists and the cooperation of many health authority staff who will coordinate this schedule.

For the first time, two one-week endoscopy blitzes are planned in Hay River; one from May 25 to 29 and one from September 21 to 25. The procedures will be performed by a specialist at a rate of 10 procedures per day. A total of 100 endoscopies will be performed on high need patients during the two weeks on clients from the South Slave region. This will more than complete the urgent and semi-urgent cases for the entire South Slave region.

For Beaufort-Delta region, plans are underway to have its own endoscopy blitz in the fall. This blitz will serve clients from the Sahtu region as well as Beaufort-Delta, who are currently on a waiting list.

Mr. Speaker, Stanton Territorial Health Authority is also finalizing a plan to maximize efficiency and to increase the number of procedures being performed to 10 procedures per day in order to reduce its wait-list. Together with two blitzes being planned in Hay River and Beaufort-Delta, we will decrease the wait-list at Stanton Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, endoscopy is a common procedure which includes colonoscopy and gastroscopy. Gastroscopy detects cancer of the stomach. The good news is that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable. If detected early, this disease can be successfully treated 90 percent of the time.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important to note that wait-lists are consistently monitored and updated by clinicians based on need. As mentioned, we have wait-lists, and will continue to do so, as does the rest of Canada. Access to specialists and medical equipment continues to be a challenge.

By consistently monitoring and updating the wait-list and making better use of all of our health facilities and staff and working closely with our authorities, we are able to put together this territorial service plan to better serve our residents all across our regions.

I would like to thank the CEOs and medical directors in each authority for their leadership and commitment. It is by working as a territorial team, as envisioned in Foundation for Change action plan, that we will continue to meet the challenges of delivering essential medical services to the NWT residents.

I would also like to advise the House that in the next few days I will be announcing a mammography blitz in South Slave region aimed at improving breast health screening and early detection of breast cancer. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 31-16(5): Endoscopy Blitz
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Ministers’ statements. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

Delivery Of Housing Programs In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I had an opportunity to travel to 10 communities with the Social Programs committee on the review of the child and family services legislation. As part of the tour we took the time to listen to the MLAs, community leaders, and also through public meetings hear from the residents throughout the Northwest Territories.

We had the opportunity to get an insight to the challenges all communities are facing. One thing that stood out in my mind, of the challenges that they are facing in program and service delivery, was the lack of programs and services being delivered in our communities and housing. Without these fundamental programs and services, a lot of the government initiatives cannot be delivered.

In regard to the area of housing, it was very appalling to see the number of public housing units boarded up in these communities, yet communities insist on realizing that housing is one of the biggest challenges that they’re facing.

We as a government have to do a better job of ensuring the services we deliver and the challenges that we face such as housing. We have to ensure that we can not only deliver those programs and services but meet the fundamental needs of our residents.

From the Hay River Reserve we noted 12 units which were boarded up, because they were not being provided to the residents of the community. In talking to the chief and council we were told that they had asked the Housing Corporation to remove the housing from the reserve because they were not being used or occupied.

We heard the same thing in Fort Liard where a lot of money was put into the Kotaneelee Housing Project. Millions of dollars were expended on this retrofit and yet a lot of those units are boarded up and not being used because of vandalism.

We have to find a way to ensure that the programs and services we do deliver are used, are accessible, and are providing value to our communities. Hearing from the head nurse in Fort Liard, she said that they asked for the problem, the question directly, what is the biggest challenge you see here in Fort Liard. All she said was housing, housing, housing.

Delivery Of Housing Programs In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Jacobson.

Addictions And Substance Abuse Programs
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today my Member’s statement is on substance abuse programs. Communities all across the Territories are continuously struggling with severe substance abuse problems. I’m sad to say that we’re leading in Canada in many of these areas as this problem progresses. Even more sad to say is that communities are coping with these challenges alone and there is very little support from this government.

I have spoken with the mayor of Tuktoyaktuk. He appreciates a contribution commitment for the years to run their centre. We hope we can start helping the people in similar ways as the House of Hope, which was operating as a place for people to go and gather and talk to counsellors about their addictions and evenings of fun things to interact free of alcohol. Funding is limited in the short term and more is needed. It is unreasonable for the government to expect community governments to contribute considerable amounts of their operational funding.

More than ever we need continuous support since we have, in Tuk, alcohol rationing in the community. We have compared the notes, since 2009 to 2010 that the criminal reports have been cut in half already. I feel alcohol restrictions are working, but we need support from our people to better ourselves. What we can hope for is to keep lobbying for the long-term system that we can work continuously, that we can work and plan our way to the future. With the residential school funding in jeopardy, this government needs to support small, remote communities even more than before.

The substance abuse situation and lack of real support services is in crisis. The Northwest Territories has been one of the highest levels of addiction needs per capita in Canada with one of the lowest expenditures in program assistance. This government continuously criticizes the lack of real initiatives that comes against the war against drugs and other forms of subsistence abuse, especially for our youth.

The government is in an excellent position to take the lead, work with all levels of government, including the federal government and organizations to create meaningful programs and infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, I understand the government continues to spend millions out of the province in support resources.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Addictions And Substance Abuse Programs
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Mr. Speaker, I see the government continues to spend millions out of province in support resources only for participants to return to their home communities without aftercare. That’s not only not compassionate, it makes no business sense, Mr. Speaker.

The root of all problems comes from these issues: kids not doing well in school, people in an endless cycle of social assistance, and dependencies on drugs and alcohol. The fact the communities lack real support from returning from substance abuse treatment is a shame, Mr. Speaker. I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Addictions And Substance Abuse Programs
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Impending Closure Of Edmonton City Centre Airport
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to raise an issue today that I believe is something this government cannot continue to ignore. This issue is the impending closure of the City Centre Airport in Edmonton.

The City Centre Airport receives approximately 4,500 medevac flights per year from northern Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. About 1,000 of these flights originate in the Northwest Territories. Of the 1,000 flights, typically 10 percent are of a critical nature. The Cross Cancer Clinic, Stollery Children’s Hospital and other health facilities at the University and Royal Alexandra Hospitals are established to serve the needs of critical care patients arriving from the Northwest Territories by medevac. The closure of the City Centre Airport will undoubtedly put lives in peril and cost this government thousands of dollars more in transporting our residents from the international airport.

Mr. Speaker, in an emergency situation, a STARS helicopter service will charge $2,500 an hour, and at the best of times it will take 30 minutes to get a patient from the international airport into a major hospital. A ground ambulance for a return trip to the international airport would be in the neighbourhood of $700.

Mr. Speaker, as the Members of this House are well aware, all jurisdictions across this country are dealing with ever-growing expenditures in health care. Here is an example of the City of Edmonton, who like to say they are the gateway to the North, showing little regard for the safety and well-being of our residents.

Make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker, the closure of the Edmonton City Centre Airport will increase health risks for NWT residents. NWT residents will be exposed to longer flight times and riskier hospital transfers. And again, these increased patient risks will be accompanied by increased costs.

Mr. Speaker, where is our Health Minister at in this process? Has she had discussions with the mayor of Edmonton, the Premier or the Health Minister in Alberta to convey obvious concerns that this government would have? I have not heard her say anything publicly about it. Is she waiting for the bulldozers to move in or what, Mr. Speaker?

In life and death situations, minutes count and we owe it to our residents to champion the fight to keep the City Centre Airport open. We need to ensure all of our citizens have the best access to medical services when they need it the most. We need to find allies in northern MPs, MLAs and municipal politicians to lobby the City of Edmonton and province of Alberta to try and keep this airport open.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Impending Closure Of Edmonton City Centre Airport
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

This closure will affect each and every community in the Northwest Territories and all of our residents. In the North, air ambulance service is a service that our residents depend on. Why doesn’t our government have anything at all to say about the closure of the City Centre Airport in Edmonton? Thank you.

Impending Closure Of Edmonton City Centre Airport
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Abernethy.

MEMBER’S STATEMENT ON

MOTORCYCLE RIDE FOR DAD