This is page numbers 3193 – 3228 of the Hansard for the 17th 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 wildlife.

Topics

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

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Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Mr. Miltenberger.

Point Of Order
Prayer

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I once again rise on a point of order under 23(k) and (l).

Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House you ruled on a point of order that I raised in this House last week, in which you found that I did have a point of order and Mr. Hawkins was asked to withdraw his comments.

It has come to my attention and I am rising on the first available opportunity and I will table this document at the appropriate time today. It has come to my attention that a Facebook electronic missive was sent out of this House literally minutes after your ruling, that says, “Well, the NWT Speaker ruled against me and he felt my words were too harsh for the Minister of Health.

“First off, I am happy to withdraw them fully. But it should be said it is difficult, if not enormously challenging not to be passionate about the job we are doing here. And when the Minister cannot do his job, I question why they are left there at the cost of all Northerners.

“One serious challenge for me is, should it not be my job to call the Minister out when he won’t or cannot do his job.”

Those are direct references, once again, that you ruled and required a withdrawal. He closes by saying, “And at the same time, isn’t it in many ways the greater crime to ignore that fact.” which I would only take as a reference to the ruling.

Mr. Speaker, the point of order is I see this missive as no different than a note, where in the past notes have been written in the House and it becomes public and gets tabled. This one, we have on one hand Mr. Hawkins speaking in this House saying he withdraws his comments and apologizes, and then in this House he sends out a Facebook that

basically repudiates that and, in fact, challenges the findings of the ruling.

I believe the point of order is still relevant because when you look at these two contradictory messages in the same period of time in this House, one of them is accurate and one of them is not. I think this type of technology, this type of communication now is going to be a challenge for us. In this case, I believe Mr. Hawkins still has to clarify whether, in fact, he does withdraw his comments, given his mixed messages here that he’s sending, one saying yes, one saying no and, not only that, but challenging the ruling of the Chair. Thank you.

Point Of Order
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. I will allow Mr. Hawkins to reply to Mr. Miltenberger’s point of order. Mr. Hawkins.

Point Of Order
Prayer

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the job that the House Leader has to do and I say that with great respect. He’s doing his job. As far as his challenge under 23(k) and (l), I think he’s in error and I’ll say why.

In the House yesterday, I will quote from unedited Hansard, “That was my intent when I said I apologize to this House sincerely and fully, and with that, I withdraw my remarks. My apologies for missing that last piece.” Of course, it also goes on, “It was not intended in any other manner.”

Yesterday I pointed out to the public who’s following this particular issue, yes, I did post on Facebook, so I will take ownership of that. That’s the only way to do this. One must be accountable. Mr. Speaker, I pointed out, following one of the posts by our NWT politics sites, which I attached there, to help explain it further, appreciate or understand my perspective. So, Mr. Speaker, I, first off, am happy to withdraw them fully and that’s where I explained the remarks. What I do now is further elaborate to explain to people the enormous challenges about being passionate in this job. Of course, I explain the serious challenge before this particular thing which has led us to these problems.

In this Chamber, I fully respect this ruling, I did so and will continue to do so. In this House you will continue to hear that in the context of how I phrase my words, my statements and my questions. I believe it’s an illusion to say I am attempting to challenge the Speaker’s ruling. I once again say I am respecting your ruling.

I feel that my job is to get out there and communicate why and what has led us to this ruling issued by you, and again, I respect it. The public has a right to know and they are concerned and they are contacting me and they demand that I continue accountability with this government well within the rules and your oversight.

If I do not do my job, which is demand accountability by people, it makes it very challenging for why they sent me and many other of my colleagues here. Expressing my opinion outside the venue of this House does not contradict your point of view, it further explains what has led me to why I took the statements I made last a week and I continue to accept your ruling and decision of them. It doesn’t change my internal passion for the job and, yes, it is challenging to do this job. Sometimes you get heated under the collar, but nothing has changed since yesterday, which is I fully accept your opinion and your direction to this House and your ruling. That said, I was trying to help people understand what passion and energy had led me to where I was.

Point Of Order
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. I am not going to allow debate on this issue. I’m going to take it under advisement and I will bring it forward to the House more than likely tomorrow or the next day. Thank you, colleagues.

Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 90-17(4): Economic Opportunities Strategy
Ministers’ Statements

Kam Lake

David Ramsay Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment

Mr. Speaker, shortly after taking office, as we considered the economic opportunities, realities and challenges that lay ahead for our territory, the 17th Assembly

highlighted the need for a comprehensive strategy to guide our economy though this time of unprecedented political and economic change. Today I am pleased to inform Members that the Governance Committee has completed an Economic Opportunities Strategy for the NWT, which I will be tabling later today.

The settlement of land claims, self-government agreements, and especially the pending devolution of governance responsibilities for lands and resources will soon give our territory a greater degree of self-reliance and decision-making.

Further, the lingering impacts of a world-wide economic recession and the finite nature of our territory’s diamond mining sector underscore the need for a made-in the-NWT approach to guide and increase economic growth, diversity and certainty. Economic opportunities are the key to getting our

people working, freeing them from poverty and helping them to reach their full potential.

This NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy has been created with the direct input of NWT residents, governments, organizations, industries and businesses. The drafting of the final strategy has been overseen by the Strategy Governance Committee, which is a collaborative partnership with the NWT Association of Communities, the NWT Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Aboriginal Business Association, Canada’s Northern Economic Development Agency and the GNWT.

The strategy gives particular attention to tourism, agriculture, fishing, manufacturing and the traditional economy; it provides a plan to grow and diversify the NWT economy, creating an environment in which our residents can envision, pursue and realize their economic opportunities at the grassroots level. These benefits will carry over into all of our communities and regions, resulting in an enhanced quality of life for our residents.

To build this vibrant economy, we will need to secure its foundation in resource investment and population growth. Our territory’s people and communities must be prepared to maximize the benefits of the incredible economic opportunities that lay ahead. This will be achieved, in part, by the Mineral Development Strategy that will also be released within a couple of weeks.

The Economic Opportunities Strategy is built on four themes, each a cornerstone for a 10-year approach to building our economy: A Climate for Growth, Building on our Success, Regional Diversification, and ensuring our people are “Opportunity Ready.”

Each theme identifies targets and objectives. From these, the Governance Committee has recommended 117 actions to fulfill the vision of a strategy that will guide the development and realization of economic potential in all regions of the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, as much as this strategy document reflects the completion of a critical planning process, it also marks the beginning of a longer-term plan to address and deliver its actions. We are already working on the GNWT’s implementation plan to get this strategy in motion.

Federal transfer payments and the resource royalties the Government of the Northwest Territories will receive through devolution depend greatly on the size of the territorial economy.

We need to grow and diversify the economy to help ensure that sustainable resource development benefits our people well into the future and supports long-term prosperity for the entire territory. We have great potential here in the North, but we cannot take that potential for granted. To maximize the

opportunities in front of us, we need the kind of vision this plan sets out for creating a robust economy that all residents can benefit from.

I would like to thank the members of the Governance Committee, the project’s advisory panel and the many NWT residents who have informed and contributed to the development of the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy. I look forward to updating this House on its ongoing implementation and success. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 90-17(4): Economic Opportunities Strategy
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Minister responsible for the Anti-Poverty Strategy, Mr. Abernethy.

Minister's Statement 91-17(4): Anti-Poverty Action Plan
Ministers’ Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, one of the goals this Assembly set out to achieve almost two years ago is a healthy, educated people free from poverty. To move towards this goal, the Premier committed to the development of an Anti-Poverty Strategy.

In June I had the pleasure of tabling Building on the Strengths of Northerners: A Strategic Framework Toward the Elimination of Poverty in the NWT. This framework provides a roadmap for us to work in collaboration with our partners, to eliminate poverty in our communities.

The development of this document was a joint effort led by a steering committee made up of representatives of the private sector, NGOs and governments. It incorporates input received during several years of consultation across the North, and reflects the complexity of poverty and its links to the social determinants of health. The framework targets five priority areas, with a focus on children and families, healthy living, safe and affordable housing, sustainable communities and better integration of services.

The development of this framework was merely the starting point for our efforts to eliminate poverty in the NWT. We are now at the stage where we must develop and implement comprehensive action plans.

Work on this has begun. My colleagues in the social envelope and I are working together to develop an integrated, cross-departmental government action plan that will pull together the actions already being taken by all departments as well as identify further actions needed and funding required. This comprehensive plan will be ready for presentation to this Assembly in the new year.

But the elimination of poverty is not a goal that can be achieved by government alone. We need to work with communities, Aboriginal governments and non-government organizations, as well as the private sector, to develop a truly comprehensive,

territorial action plan. To kick-start this work I will host a roundtable next month to which representatives of all sectors will be invited.

None of us have identical goals. All governments and agencies have different mandates and priorities, but we have more in common than we have differences. We can see where we might work together to achieve our common goals and identify steps each of us can take. We’ll start there. Together, we will set shared actions and ensure long-term benefits for all our people. Government alone cannot eliminate poverty, but if each of us commits to doing whatever we can within our respective mandates, I am confident we will succeed.

Many groups and communities are already working towards our shared goal of elimination of poverty. I recently had the honour of speaking at a workshop designed for communities and non-government organizations to share their ideas, challenges and successes in addressing poverty. This workshop was organized by the No Place for Poverty Coalition with financial support from the Government of the Northwest Territories. It brought together over 50 people from across the NWT, all of whom had experience in living with poverty or dealing with its impact. This gathering is a demonstration of the commitment of many people to our shared goal, and conclusions and recommendations from the workshop will be brought forward for consideration at the November roundtable.

Mr. Speaker, together we can build a strong, sustainable future for our territory. I look forward to continuing to work with Members of this Assembly, Aboriginal and community governments, NGOs and representatives of business and industry as we develop, and then implement, a comprehensive action plan that will move us closer to our goal of a truly poverty-free territory. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 91-17(4): Anti-Poverty Action Plan
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. The honourable Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Beaulieu.

Minister's Statement 92-17(4): Aboriginal Health And Wellness
Ministers’ Statements

Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Health and Social Services

Mr. Speaker, this Assembly is committed to a goal of healthy, educated people free from poverty. Improving the health status of the Aboriginal population in the Northwest Territories is one way the Department of Health and Social Services is accomplishing that goal.

Clearly, if we want to make meaningful change, we have to focus our efforts on the areas of greatest need. We must stop designing “one size fits all” solutions and start listening to communities about what will work.

Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories are suffering from an increased burden of chronic diseases and the trends are worsening. Their cancer rates are higher, Type 2 Diabetes is a growing concern, and they are more likely to be hospitalized for mental health or addictions-related issues.

It is a sad fact that 95 percent of the children in foster care in the Northwest Territories are Aboriginal. These are troubling statistics and we must take action to improve the health of our Aboriginal residents. We know that better promotion of healthy lifestyles is one of the keys to improving this situation. It is obvious to me that we must change the way we do business in order to effectively reach out to our residents.

We need to develop prevention and promotion programs that will be effective and culturally respectful.

We need to work with our health centres to create a welcoming environment where Aboriginal people feel respected and supported.

Mr. Speaker, our new Aboriginal health and community wellness division is working towards that goal. We are changing the way we do business.

Regionally-based community wellness planners will be working more closely with community groups and Aboriginal governments to help them identify their priorities and develop appropriate responses. This helps provide better programming and is consistent with the government’s Aboriginal Engagement Strategy.

Prevention and promotion experts will provide support to community wellness plans. We will put less emphasis on mass-producing posters in English and more emphasis on helping communities to use the most effective tools to reach people.

I will enhance the mandate of Stanton’s Elders Council so that their valuable expertise may provide guidance in developing territory-wide solutions.

By exploring how to make our system more responsive to Aboriginal patients and clients, we also create the potential to incorporate traditional healing into primary care.

Mr. Speaker, the government cannot make people healthy by itself. People also have to take responsibility for their own health by making good decisions and adopting a healthy lifestyle. Eating well, getting exercise, not smoking and avoiding alcohol abuse are steps that every individual can take to improve their health. With the assistance of the many programs and services this government provides and our new approach to doing business, people have a lot of power to choose lives free from disease and illness. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 92-17(4): Aboriginal Health And Wellness
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Nahendeh Core Housing Needs
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. On the housing front, the Nahendeh region is one of the regions in the Northwest Territories with the highest core need. Housing needs are evaluated in terms of suitability, adequacy and affordability. Suitability means having the appropriate number of bedrooms for the number of occupants; adequacy means running water, indoor plumbing, and isn’t in need of major repairs; affordability means that housing costs consumes less than 30 percent of the household income. A dwelling with problems in two or more of these areas – suitability, adequacy and affordability – gets placed in the core needs category.

Mr. Speaker, as of 2009, when the most recent housing survey was released, 35 percent of the homes in the Nahendeh region fell into a core needs category. For hundreds of my constituents, this housing situation is really grim.

A related problem is there are only a few family violence shelters to serve the entire Northwest Territories. Many women are trying to escape bad relationships, but because they can’t find safe, transitional housing, they end up back with their abusive partners.

The ugliest side of the housing crisis is homelessness. Homelessness leaves people in a constant state of stress; it’s linked to higher rates of unemployment, substance abuse and suicide. Homeless people are at higher risk of contracting HIV infection, Hepatitis C and sexually transmitted diseases.

Taken together, homelessness and inadequate housing are also significant barriers for people attempting to recover from addictions. It is often impossible to find suitable accommodations where they won’t be exposed to destructive activities and get sucked back into addictive lifestyles.

Whether we are considering Fort Simpson, Fort Liard or the smallest of my communities, there just aren’t enough shelters or other measures to provide relief. To be sure, the Housing Corporation is making great strides to improve public housing and respond to homelessness, but I would like to see facilities for homelessness and transitional housing for Nahendeh.

I will have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Nahendeh Core Housing Needs
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.