This is page numbers 3303 – 3322 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 going.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Hon. Tom Beaulieu, Ms. Bisaro, Mr. Blake, Mr. Bouchard, Mr. Bromley, Mr. Dolynny, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Hawkins, Hon. Jackie Jacobson, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Hon. Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Moses, Mr. Nadli, Hon. David Ramsay, Mr. Yakeleya

The House met at 10:01 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good morning, colleagues. Colleagues, I’d like to draw your attention to the presence of the Honourary Clerk, former Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. David Hamilton.

---Applause

For over two decades he guided the Assembly through many of its most important changes including division of the territory in 1999. He was the Clerk who oversaw the building of the House where we are sitting here today. I don’t know if any of us can imagine what a huge task it would have been. It’s very fitting that he’s here to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We welcome you back to the Chamber, Mr. Hamilton. Thank you for your long service to the institution and thank you for being here today.

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Human Resources, Mr. Beaulieu.

Minister's Statement 96-17(4): GNWT Occupational Health And Safety Program
Ministers’ Statements

Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Human Resources

Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of our employees is of utmost importance in ensuring we have a strong workforce, able to provide services to residents of the NWT. We have been working aggressively to uphold and enhance occupational health and safety across all Government of the Northwest Territories worksites.

To this end, we are pleased to confirm the launch of the GNWT’s corporate Occupational Health and Safety Training Program. OHS training helps all employees understand the value of health and safety to reduce workplace injuries. There are two streams. One focuses on training for all staff, including specialized training that addresses risks in certain occupations or worksites. The second focuses on training for OHS committee

representatives to ensure they have the knowledge and tools to manage OHS effectively in their workplace. Courses will be available on the GNWT training calendar by the end of this calendar year.

Mr. Speaker, the training for all staff is being delivered in partnership with the Northern Safety Association. This association, formed in 2007 and funded by the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission, is mandated to work with partners to reduce human, social and economic losses as a result of workplace accidents and injuries. The goals of the Northern Safety Association are to foster a commitment to workplace health and safety workers and employers; to save lives and reduce workplace accidents, injuries and illnesses; to reduce all costs associated with workplace accidents; and to strive to provide proactive programs and services that will contribute to creating a sound foundation for a safer, healthier and more profitable future for workers and employers.

Mr. Speaker, among the many services offered by the Northern Safety Association to workers and employers is the delivery of quality safety training.

The association has access to specialized occupational health and safety training through its provincial and territorial partners and offers a combination of on-line and in-person training opportunities. We are pleased to advise that the Northern Safety Association and the Department of Human Resources are partnering on elements of the corporate Occupational Health and Safety Training Program to make occupational health and safety training available to all GNWT employees.

Departments and agencies are actively working to manage injury claim costs, apply health and safety practices and ensure their workplaces comply with health and safety standards. The Department of Human Resources continues to develop guidelines to support implementation of our Occupational Health and Safety Policy, approved and implemented earlier this year. There is a web page dedicated to the GNWT’s Occupational Health and Safety Program and its requirements to provide employees information and tools. Quarterly OHS coordinators meetings are held to develop skills, hear from safety experts and share best practices.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT is a safe employer when one examines occupational health and safety-related metrics such as time loss claims and number of workplace safety and health accidents across the GNWT.

Mr. Speaker, it’s clear: Better safety means healthier employees, which in turn means more effective programs and services.

We are committed to ensuring that the Department of Human Resources continues its work to lead the corporate framework that supports departments and agencies as they implement the GNWT’s Occupational Health and Safety Program within their respective mandates. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 96-17(4): GNWT Occupational Health And Safety Program
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Recognition Of Former Clerk David Hamilton
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to rise today to say what a pleasure it is to have Mr. David Hamilton back in the Chamber today. I was elected, as Mr. Miltenberger was, in 1995, and was greeted by a bigger than life personality that was around this institution at that time and certainly I don’t think you could describe his influence and his work in this Assembly simply as Clerk. Mr. Speaker, I just jotted down a few things. Today in P and P we talked about the team that worked on the building. I think the team was actually a team of one. I think that this building was, in fact, a vision and a dream, and Mr. Hamilton’s influence was greatly brought to bear on what this building looks like today.

Mr. Speaker, he was an event planner, he was a guidance counsellor, ambassador for the North and often a peacemaker in times as often can happen in political settings like this, things were rocky. I’d just like to say that I have very fond memories of those years. When Mr. Hamilton was here, he set a high standard for those who would follow him and it is a pleasure to have him in our Chamber today. Thank you.

---Applause

Recognition Of Former Clerk David Hamilton
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

Tax Collection On Tobacco Sales
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Back in February 2012 I shared findings with this House, followed with a press conference that clearly demonstrated we were not collecting our fair share of taxes on tobacco products.

The Standing Committee on Government Operations was also interested in these findings, as was the Auditor General of Canada. Since then, the Department of Finance undertook a feasibility study to investigate such findings, with the hopes of better clarity on the collections and establishing some sort of tobacco commission in the Northwest Territories.

Now, unfortunately, I will not be able to discuss the findings of the study as it belongs to the Department of Finance and is currently under committee review. All I can say at this point is the Department of Finance continues to support a process whereby we are relying on out-of-territory wholesalers to self-report on tobacco sold from their facilities to retailers in the Northwest Territories.

This self-reporting I referred then as the perfect loophole in our tobacco tax collection. Sadly, Mr. Speaker, this has not changed.

We have a serious flaw in our system of tobacco tax collection which has been going on for years, yet after every measurable attempt to persuade the department to retool their program, we are no further ahead than we were 20 months ago. This is shameful, Mr. Speaker.

The public deserves the utmost confidence that our tax collection system is foolproof and without the potential doorway of exploitation.

I was elected to this position to scrutinize every dollar spent by this government and maximize the same in revenue collection. Accountability, transparency and protecting the public purse is not just a slogan I casually throw around and I take it with extreme prejudice when, for the second time this week, I have to publicly remind the Minister of Finance that money is being left on the table. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tax Collection On Tobacco Sales
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. Member for Hay River North, Mr. Bouchard.

Reflections On The Legislative Assembly Building
Members’ Statements

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the building. I think we need to take the time to thank the Premiers, Speakers, Ministers and MLAs that came before us that had to make the difficult decisions to build this building. Today we have the opportunity.

We also need to thank the former staff, like my colleague had mentioned, Mr. Hamilton, and some of the other staff that have been before that had to make the tough decisions on how we build this building. We need to thank the Building Society for their strong efforts and vision to finance and complete the construction of this building.

Two years ago when I started here in this position, it was very intimidating to get up and speak in this House. It’s a very majestic building. Members of the public often come to the building. We are very proud to show the building off to them. We have people from around the country of Canada who come here and we show off our building. It’s one of the nicest Legislative Assembly buildings in Canada.

We just had some foreign dignitaries come here. We’re very proud to show the building, show some of the attributes that are here, talk about how much light is in the building and how well designed it is.

On this date today, we have to thank those people who came before us who had the vision and had to make the tough decisions. I know we didn’t have the money at the time and we probably wouldn’t do something like this today just because of the fiscal restraint that we have. I’d like to thank those Members who came today and all those Members that had vision. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Reflections On The Legislative Assembly Building
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. Colleagues, before we move on this morning, I’d like to welcome back to the House former Premier Floyd Roland and Angela.

---Applause

It’s good to see you back. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

“movember” Prostate Cancer And Men’s Health Awareness Campaign
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Movember is an annual month-long event including the growing of mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness about prostate cancer as well as other male cancer. The goal of Movember is to change the face of men’s health by encouraging men to get involved. Movember aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and, certainly, effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths.

Besides getting annual checkups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of any family history of cancer and to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Since 2004, the Movember Foundation charity has run Movember events to raise awareness and funds across the world. In 2007 many events were launched and it then included Canada, and I’m certainly proud to say that Canadians have been some of the largest contributors to the charity through Movember to help men’s health.

James MacKenzie and Sugan Mannavarajan have been leaders in this initiative to bring it here to Yellowknife. Last year they were key to ensuring that it got off the ground. This year was no different. Those two individuals are bringing this campaign to life.

This evening there will be an event at The Cellar, where men are encouraged to come on down and shave their mustache. There will be an inaugural shave by Jimmy the barber, and many of us know him from Ragged Ass Barber Shop. He’s a fantastic guy, and he’s been a leader and, certainly, a pillar to this event. Other folks in this Assembly are joining on this Movember campaign. We have Mr. Dolynny on this side here. We also have Mr. Moses who will be joining. I even heard, as of this morning, that Mr. Dennis Bevington, our MP, shaved his 40-year-old mustache off in support of the Movember campaign.

The last person I need to say is maybe we should encourage Mr. Bromley, who’s got his Back to the Future beard here, and with a little political pressure, maybe we can get him to join in on the fun of the campaign.

Not everyone will be able to make it down to The Cellar this evening. With that, I’d say please contact myself, Mr. Dolynny, or even Mr. Moses if you want to know more. Furthermore, if you need to know even more, go to Movember.com and I’m sure it will lead you in the right direction.

The last thing I want to say is the intent of this year’s campaign was to make an NWT-wide team. As such, feel free, everyone from the Northwest Territories, to join Team Primo here and we will do it together in men’s health. Thank you.

“movember” Prostate Cancer And Men’s Health Awareness Campaign
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Infrastructure Contributions To Non-Government Organizations
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Over two years ago, as Members reviewed the 2012-13 capital budget, we debated a $1 million infrastructure contribution to an NGO. As part of the capital budget, Cabinet had proposed this considerable contribution to the Children First Society in Inuvik for a new early childhood care centre. I opposed that project, not because I did not see value in the project, and not because I disagreed with the intent of the building. No, I opposed approving the funding because it was a one-of-a-kind budget item and there was no government policy to guide how this type of contribution should be made. On what grounds and under what circumstances would it be made?

The government had never before made a cash contribution to a non-government construction project. I want to make it very clear that I have no problem with this NGO receiving these funds. In my mind, this is exactly the kind of project that deserves funding from our government. The Children First Centre had the support of the entire community. Both financial and personal resources were put behind this project. The society had already raised over 80 percent of the funds needed for construction, proving what a viable project this was.

Where I had problems was with the process, or rather, lack of process. There was no call for proposals for this million dollars. The decision to include it in the capital budget was made by Cabinet alone. There was no policy in place to guide the awarding of funds to an NGO construction project.

There are a great many NGOs in our territory who would love to get a million dollars to help them build their infrastructure, but since last year, the Standing Committee on Social Programs has tried several times to get the government to develop and put in place a policy to govern infrastructure contributions to NGOs. To date, there’s been no commitment from government. We’ve heard a number of reasons why it can’t be done, why it’s been sloughed off: my department doesn’t need one; that was a unique project, one-time request; it won’t happen again. Those reasons are invalid, but precedent has now been set. As it stands right now, any NWT NGO with a construction project can apply to the government for a bunch of cash through their MLA. We need to develop a policy for use for the next request. Government is accountable to the public for the effective management of all public resources including that provided to NGOs.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Infrastructure Contributions To Non-Government Organizations
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

We need to not only be fair but be seen to be fair. Cabinet must develop a policy and criteria for that policy. In order to qualify for funding, organizations must meet that criteria. Right now, in the absence of any policy and criteria, decisions to fund or not to fund are highly subjective and politically influenced. That is not fair to our hard working NGOs, nor is it fair to our residents who benefit from the NGO’s hard work.

I will have questions for the Premier at a later time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.