Debates of Nov. 4th, 2013
This is page numbers 3323 – 3346 of the Hansard for the 17th 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 public.
- Oral Questions
- Opening Address
- Minister's Statement 1-17(5): Highway Of Heroes
- Anniversary In The North
- Strengthening Municipal Enforcement Of Liquor Laws
- Treatment Of Income Assistance Clients
- Public Sector Salary Disclosure
- Occupancy Of Marital Home During Separation Or Divorce
- Highlights Of The 20th Anniversary Of The Legislative Assembly Building Celebration
- Giant Mine Project Team Response To Environmental Assessment
- Core Housing Needs In The Sahtu Region
- Governance Of Deh Cho Health And Social Services Authority
- Governance Of The Beaufort-Delta Health And Social Services Authority
- Question 1-17(5): GNWT Direct Appointments Process
- Question 2-17(5): Youth Addictions Treatment Pilot Projects
- Question 3-17(5): Treatment Of Income Assistance Clients
- Question 4-17(5): Public Sector Salary Disclosure
- Question 5-17(5): Homelessness
- Question 6-17(5): Core Needs Identified In Housing Needs Survey
- Question 7-17(5): Governance Of The Deh Cho Health And Social Services Authority
- Question 8-17(5): Governance Of The Beaufort-Delta Health And Social Services Authority
- Question 9-17(5): Subsidies Proposed In Mineral Development Strategy Panel Report
- Question 10-17(5): Medical Travel For Psychiatry Services
- Question 11-17(5): Impact Of Deh Cho Bridge On Yellowknife Food Prices
- Tabled Document 1-17(5): Supplementary Estimates (Infrastructure Expenditure), No. 1, 2014-2015
- Tabled Document 2-17(5): Northwest Territories Community Futures Program 2011-2012 Annual Report
- Tabled Document 3-17(5): Canadian Heritage News Release: NWT Student Uses Modern Technology To Study Historic Aboriginal Land Claim – Video To Debut In Ottawa
- Motion 1-17(5): Sahtu Institute Of Technology Planning Study
- Bill 1: Reindeer Act
- Bill 2: Archaeological Sites Act
- Bill 3: Surface Rights Board Act
- Bill 4: Health Information Act
- Bill 5: An Act To Amend The Motor Vehicles Act
- Bill 6: An Act To Amend The Medical Care Act
- Orders of the Day
The House met at 1:32 p.m.
---Singing of O Canada
The Speaker Jackie Jacobson
Thank you to Pastor Kirk Tastad from the Yellowknife Lutheran Church for leading us in prayer this afternoon and to Jesse Casey for the beautiful version of O Canada.
Madam Clerk, would you ascertain if the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable George Tuccaro, is prepared to enter the Chamber to open the Fifth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly?
George Tuccaro Commissioner Of The Northwest Territories
Mr. Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, good afternoon. Speaker Jacobson, Premier McLeod, Members of the Legislative Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure to be here today to open the Fifth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly.
This Assembly has a vision of a strong, self-sufficient and prosperous territory. A territory that gives its people the freedom and opportunity to achieve personal aspirations and develop to their full potential. A territory where healthy, educated people are able to participate fully in the social and economic life of their community, share in benefits and contribute to the common good. A territory where people are able to provide for themselves and their families. A territory where people have the support and services they need to overcome personal challenges that may be holding them back. A territory where our young people are raised in loving, healthy families and will grow up free of the hindrances their parents and grandparents may have faced.
That is your government’s vision, a vision of strong people and strong families living in strong communities, enjoying the benefits of a thriving economy and a sustainable environment. That vision has guided your government’s actions and
decisions to this point and will guide it going forward.
You recently passed the second anniversary of your election to this Legislative Assembly. A little over two years ago, you convened here for the beginning of the 17th Assembly. You brought with you your hopes, plans and ideas – and those of the people you represent – for a better, more prosperous future. You set to work, pooling your ideas, your talent and your experience to outline an agenda and priorities for your government. You chose a Premier and Cabinet, established committees and got on with the business of serving the people of the Northwest Territories, guided by a common vision.
That vision – Believing in People and Building on the Strengths of Northerners – was a long-term vision that acknowledges that it takes time to create a new territory. It is no accident that “building” is at the centre of your vision. Building is exactly what you are doing.
Building is a process. It has to start with careful planning and a solid foundation. Building isn’t about quick fixes or easy solutions. Building is about drawing up plans, gathering materials, identifying your team and making sure everyone knows their job. It follows a logical progression. You lay your foundation before you erect your frame and you put up your frame before you add the roof.
The first two years of your government have been about laying a strong foundation for future success. They have been about undertaking the necessary planning, identifying what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and what resources and materials you need to finish the job.
Work has begun, and been completed, on some major elements that you will need to achieve success for the people of this territory in the remaining two years of your government.
This Assembly’s vision outlined five priority areas for action. Your government has made progress in every one of these areas:
You are building a strong and sustainable future for our territory by strengthening partnerships with governments at all levels. You are ensuring the right legislative authorities and financial resources are in place to support strong, effective government
for the people of the NWT. In your first two years, you have succeeded in raising the federal borrowing limit and entering into intergovernmental agreements with four regional Aboriginal governments. You have implemented respect, recognition, responsibility, your government’s strategy for engaging with Aboriginal governments.
You have implemented a federal engagement strategy to foster improved partnerships with Canada. You held the highly successful NWT Days to raise awareness of the NWT’s potential and priorities. After years of negotiations and hard work, you have signed the final Devolution Agreement, along with five Aboriginal government partners and continue discussions with the remaining two. The long-hoped for transfer of responsibility for public lands, resources and water from Ottawa is close.
You are increasing employment opportunities where they are needed the most. Decentralization is ongoing and devolved positions will be placed in communities where it makes sense. You are developing a long-term Workforce Planning Strategy and Regional Recruitment Plan to help community residents fill available positions in the regions. You have introduced Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training and planned an Aboriginal inclusion survey as part of your continuing commitment to creating a representative public service. You are reducing dependency and encouraging people to stay in the workforce by introducing new public housing rent scales, wage subsidy contracts through Small Communities Employment Supports and exemptions for a portion of treaty and Impact and Benefit Agreement payments from assessment for income assistance further this.
You are strengthening and diversifying the economy by making strategic investments in the infrastructure the Northwest Territories needs to support long-term economic development. Investments like the Deh Cho Bridge, Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway, and Mackenzie Valley fibre optic link. You have completed an Economic Opportunities Strategy that will help guide the sustainable growth and diversification of the NWT’s economy in all regions and communities. You have worked with governments and people in the Sahtu region to prepare them for development. You have also supported the traditional economy with additional investments and support for harvesting, tourism and trapping.
You are addressing housing needs by implementing Building for the Future, the strategic framework that came out of the Shelter Policy Review in the last government. Under the guidance of this framework, you have made public housing rents fairer, introduced a transitional rent supplement, addressed mortgage arrears and
improved supports for homeownership and homeowners.
You are ensuring a fair and sustainable health care system by addressing poverty, mental health and addictions and early childhood development. You are expanding healthy family programs. You are adopting innovative approaches to mental health and addictions, like the Mental Health First Aid for Northern Peoples pilot and the expanded Matrix addictions treatment program. You are investing in health care and other facilities for NWT residents in Fort Smith, Behchoko, Fort Providence, Hay River and the K’atlodeeche First Nation.
These are all significant milestones that are helping you to build the NWT of tomorrow, an NWT that provides for its people, protects its environment and supports a diversified, sustainable economy. Like any building project, it depends on balance and order. You don’t start with the most visible elements that people can admire from the street. You start with work that often can’t be seen, but which is absolutely necessary.
After two years of work, the site has been prepared, the foundation has been laid and the frame has been erected. The work hasn’t been glamorous, but it has been necessary. Like any job that is worth doing, it has taken time to make sure the job has been done well. With that solid foundation, your government now intends to move forward with a balanced agenda that will invest in the people of the Northwest Territories, grow the economy and help us manage our environment responsibly and sustainably.
Realizing your vision of a strong, prosperous territory starts with strong, healthy people. Governments serve the people that elect them. The actions you take here find their meaning in the benefits they create for the people of the NWT. People get jobs that lift them out of poverty and help them provide for their families, because you take steps to grow the economy. They are healthy because you protect and conserve the environment that sustains us all. They enjoy vibrant, sustainable and safe communities because you enter into partnerships with others who share your vision: governments at all levels, non-government organizations and business and industry.
Your government understands that people are central to everything it does and critical to its success. It is committed to investing in the people of the Northwest Territories and building on their strengths. But your government knows that people don’t succeed on their own. Success depends on many factors: a healthy, inclusive society that welcomes people of all cultures and backgrounds, a supportive community, personal initiative, and the right mix of government programs and services.
It takes coordinated action and effort to create the right kind of environment that will give NWT
residents the opportunity to succeed and achieve their aspirations for themselves and their families. The future doesn’t just happen, ladies and gentlemen. We need to take an active role in creating it; we need to address social issues and the economy; we need to deal with housing and mental health; we need to invest in education and the environment.
Your government has completed or is nearing completion on several major strategies, plans and initiatives that will guide its efforts and ensure that it can bring success for the people of the Northwest Territories. That work includes:
• Building for the Future: Northern Solutions for
• Building on the Strengths of Northerners: A
Strategic Framework Toward the Elimination of Poverty in the NWT;
• Right from the Start: A Framework for Early
Childhood Development in the NWT;
• A Shared Path Towards Wellness: Mental
Health and Addictions Action Plan; and
• NWT Community Safety Strategy.
Taken together, these strategies, frameworks and plans will guide your government over the next two years and beyond. Because community problems require community solutions, they have been developed in partnership with Aboriginal and community governments, industry and NGOs. They are long-term plans that require vision and commitment and will have significant positive effects for people throughout the territory.
We can have a strong, prosperous society, ladies and gentlemen, a society that provides for its residents and gives everyone the opportunity to prosper, realize their personal ambitions and participate fully in their community and territory. Creating that society, a society that welcomes and provides opportunities to people of all cultures and backgrounds, will be a focus for your government during the remainder of its term.
But we can’t have strong social programs and a strong society without a strong economy to support and pay for it. Sharing the benefits of a prosperous Northwest Territories means having some benefits to share in the first place.
We all know that the Northwest Territories is a land of great opportunity. We have a wealth of natural resources that could create jobs, opportunities and prosperity for NWT residents and for the country. We have gold, diamonds and rare earth metals. We are a potential energy powerhouse, with world-class oil and gas resources in the Beaufort Sea, Mackenzie Delta, Sahtu and the Deh Cho. We have hydroelectric potential to rival James Bay. There are seven mining projects in various stages of development that could contribute more than $2
billion in investment in our territory and over 2,000 jobs.
But while our potential is great, we can’t take economic growth for granted. We live in a global economy where decisions and events far from our borders can have real impacts right here in our communities. Territorial GDP declined in 2008 and 2009 because of a global economic downturn and our recovery has been slow. Revenues from the diamond mines have fallen as they pass their years of peak production. Resource development and exploration continue to be affected by the availability of credit on world markets. Currently, the Northwest Territories is the only jurisdiction in the country experiencing population declines, which further affects our financial position.
We have to reverse this trend if we want to truly benefit from our enormous potential and ensure prosperity for all Northwest Territories residents. We need to grow and diversify our economy and we need to increase our population. We can do it, but the time to act is now. The window of opportunity will not stay open indefinitely and we do not want to see our resources stranded for another 40 years. The people of the Northwest Territories deserve an opportunity to prosper and benefit from the potential wealth that surrounds us.
Your government is committed to seizing the opportunity before it passes, and growing a thriving and diversified economy that will offer jobs and economic opportunities in all regions and communities.
Success will depend on investments in our people so they have the skills and training they need to fill available jobs now and in the future. It will depend on investments in our communities so they have the capacity and infrastructure to manage growth and support new businesses and residents.
It will depend on investments in public infrastructure, like roads, to support further exploration and development; like an expanded power grid to supply business and industry with reliable, affordable power; like communications infrastructure, such as the Mackenzie Valley fibre optic line, to give our people the opportunity to benefit from the new digital economy and diversify local economies.
Advancing your government’s economic prosperity agenda will take just as much planning and coordination as its social agenda. Over the past two years, your government has laid the groundwork for future success with a number of plans, initiatives and strategies that will guide it over the remaining years of its mandate, including:
• the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy;
• the Mineral Development Strategy;
• Corridors for Canada III;
• the GNWT Workforce Planning Strategy;
• the NWT Energy Plan; and
• the NWT power system plan.
We need to prepare for prosperity, ladies and gentlemen; it won’t just happen. We need to make sure we can see the opportunities that are coming and take advantage of them while they are still available to us. The work that your government has done over the past two years has created a solid foundation to help turn potential into prosperity for all.
Respect for the land and environment is a critical value for Northerners and a critical part of your government’s vision. The land is our life and the source of our wealth and well-being. Healthy people depend on a healthy environment. They live in harmony with the environment and are sustained by it. They harvest its resources responsibly, using them wisely to benefit both current and future generations.
As stewards of our land, we recognize the importance of responsible wildlife and resource management to ensure a sustainable environment for future generations. The passage of the Wildlife Act last week was a significant accomplishment and has resulted in one of the most advanced pieces of wildlife legislation in Canada. The collaborative and consultative approach used to develop the Wildlife Act demonstrates our commitment to strengthen our relationship with Aboriginal governments through respect, recognition and responsibility. The process began 15 years ago and is unique to Canada. Never before has such extensive consultation gone into wildlife management legislation. Representatives from Aboriginal governments and stakeholders worked together to ensure the Wildlife Act will benefit not only wildlife, but all the people of the Northwest Territories.
Your government continues to implement Northern Voices, Northern Waters, the water stewardship strategy it developed with the Government of Canada and the Aboriginal Steering Committee. We want the waters of the Northwest Territories to remain clean, abundant and productive for all time. Recognizing that water cannot be protected in isolation, the Government of the NWT continues to negotiate transboundary water management agreements with the governments that share the Mackenzie River Basin with us. The environment knows no borders, ladies and gentlemen, and cooperation based on a clear understanding of each other’s responsibilities, priorities and vision will be essential.
Your government also continues to work on a land use and sustainability framework that will guide its decisions about how our land and resources are developed and protected. The framework will
provide a planned and consistent approach to participating in land use decision-making processes based on northern priorities and values. It will help to ensure that your government is making the best choices possible for the land and environment. The framework will take its place along with Aboriginal governments’ plans for managing their lands, like the Tlicho and the Sahtu land use plans. Together, we are creating the necessary tools for supporting the effective, coordinated and sustainable management of the land and its resources.
Devolution, a long-standing goal for this and every other Legislation Assembly, will become a reality on April 1, 2014. For the first time, this Assembly will have the authority to manage public lands, resources and water in the Northwest Territories. The significance of this accomplishment should not be underestimated. The land and its resources are central to the life and economy of the NWT. Northerners should be the ones making the decisions about how those resources are used and the environment is protected. Come April 2014, we will be.
Your government continues to prepare for the imminent transfer of these powers. It is preparing the mirror legislation and regulations that will outline its new responsibilities. Members will see the first wave of that legislation introduced during this sitting. The organizational design has been done and plans are well underway for creating a new Lands department and updating the mandates of three others. Job offers have gone out to federal staff and the Government of the NWT looks forward to welcoming these experienced professionals into the territorial public service.
Devolution will also create new opportunities for your government to work more closely with regional Aboriginal governments. As major landholders in their own right, Aboriginal governments already have the power to decide how to develop and protect settlement lands. The Devolution Final Agreement provides for a new Intergovernmental Council where the Government of the NWT and Aboriginal governments will work together on land and resource development issues to better serve all people of the Northwest Territories.
Creating the kind of strong, sustainable territory that this Assembly has envisioned depends on pursuing a balanced agenda. It is an agenda that invests in our people, in our environment and in our economy. Success in one area is linked to success in another and we cannot truly have success unless we achieve progress in all. Achieving that success takes not just planning, but also requires collaboration and cooperation.
Partnerships will continue to be a priority for your government over the remainder of its mandate. The Government of the Northwest Territories is only one player in the ongoing effort to create a strong,
sustainable, prosperous North. Aboriginal governments have a more and more important role as claims are settled and implemented. Canada continues to play a role, as do community governments, industry and civil society.
Engaging Aboriginal governments in the spirit of respect, recognition and responsibility continues to be a priority. Your government is making progress with land, resources and self-government negotiations throughout the NWT. In the coming months, Deline, Canada and the GNWT will be considering the ratification of the Deline Final Self-Government Agreement, the NWT’s first community-based self-government agreement. Similarly, the Inuvialuit, Canada and the GNWT will be considering the approval of the Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle. Framework agreements to begin self-government negotiations with the Sahtu Dene and Metis of Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake are also ready for approval.
Your government is also making progress on negotiations towards implementing land claim agreements. Agreements-in-principle are nearing completion with the Northwest Territory Metis Nation and with the Acho Dene Koe First Nation. Completing these agreements, along with the other Aboriginal rights agreements under negotiation in the NWT will lay the basis for the NWT’s future prosperity. These negotiations will continue to be a priority for your government.
Canada will still have a major role in the North, even after devolution. The Prime Minister and his government continue to demonstrate their commitment to the Northwest Territories.
We welcome Canada’s commitments in the recent throne speech to invest in the health and education of Northerners and support responsible resource development here. Their commitment to invest in the infrastructure needed to bring resources to market is good news for the North. We also welcome their commitment to ensure that all Canadians, and particularly Aboriginal Canadians, have the opportunity to benefit from a thriving economy.
Your government shares Canada’s belief that prosperity depends on the responsible development of our country’s natural resources. World demand for Canada’s resources – the North’s resources – is high and we must seize the moment while it is at hand.
Lack of infrastructure is one of the biggest challenges the Northwest Territories faces as we look to develop our resources and grow our economy. Addressing this challenge will continue to be a priority for the remainder of your government’s term. We look forward to continued partnership with Canada, and we must invest in our future and our economy with nation-building infrastructure projects. Projects like the Mackenzie Valley
Highway, Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway, Mackenzie Valley fibre optic line and the hydro grid expansion. The North has the resources this country and the world needs. With Canada’s help, we can meet that need responsibly and create prosperity while we do it.
Northerners share a vision of a strong, sustainable, prosperous territory. We also share the responsibility for creating it together. Those who benefit from the opportunities the North offers should also play a part in building it. Just over two years into its mandate, your government has accomplished many of the objectives it set for itself at the beginning of this Assembly, but the work is not yet done.
Your government has an ambitious agenda for the future and many plans for investing in the people of the NWT, growing the economy and sustainably managing the environment. Achieving that agenda will take focus and discipline. It will require all Members to work together on behalf of the people of this territory. Devolution continues to be the major prize and the Government of the Northwest Territories remains committed to ensuring a smooth and seamless transfer of authority on April 1st . With
a newly retooled team and new energy for the next two years, your government will continue to serve the people of the Northwest Territories and pursue the vision of this Assembly.
During this session the Government of the Northwest Territories will be introducing the following bill for consideration by the House: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 1, 2014-2015.
The government considers this bill essential to the good conduct of government business and, as such, I recommend its passage.
As Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, I now declare open the Fifth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, merci beaucoup, mahsi cho, quanani, koana.
The Speaker Jackie Jacobson
Good afternoon, colleagues. On behalf of all Members, I would like to thank Commissioner Tuccaro for opening the Fifth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly.
This House extends its welcome to everyone who has joined us here today.
Item 3, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Beaulieu.
Minister's Statement 1-17(5): Highway Of Heroes
Tom Beaulieu Minister of Transportation
Mr. Speaker, as we prepare to commemorate Remembrance Day, I am pleased to confirm the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is designating a section of Highway No. 1, from the Alberta border to Enterprise, as the NWT Highway of Heroes. This designation will serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by northern soldiers, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical and rescue personnel, and other first responders who have died in the line of duty.
Recognizing our northern heroes demonstrates our government’s commitment to the Assembly’s vision of Believing in People and Building on the Strengths of Northerners. Our first responders are committed to keeping our communities sustainable, vibrant, and safe, and we honour them for their service and sacrifices.
Mr. Speaker, the Highway of Heroes is an initiative to honour Canadians who dedicated their lives to keep our communities and residents safe. This social movement started in 2002 when people of all ages and walks of life began gathering as a sign of respect along overpasses crossing Highway 401 between Trenton and Toronto. Sadly, this length of highway is travelled by convoys of vehicles that carry a dead soldier's body, with his or her family, from Canadian Forces Base Trenton to the coroner's office at the Centre for Forensic Sciences in Toronto.
In August 2007 the tribute received formal recognition when this segment of freeway was renamed the Highway of Heroes.
Since then, other Canadian provinces have similarly dedicated stretches of their highway networks with special significance to the men and women who serve our great nation. After considerable consultation with the RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces, and representatives of our fire, rescue and ambulance services, the highway between the Alberta border and Enterprise was chosen as our own Highway of Heroes.
Mr. Speaker, the GNWT and key stakeholders have developed special highway signs for installation along the roadway between Enterprise and the Alberta border, recognizing it as the NWT Highway of Heroes. These signs will remind travellers of the sacrifices our soldiers, police officers and first responders have made.
The GNWT, Canadian Armed Forces, the RCMP and the NWT fire chiefs are holding a dedication ceremony three kilometres south of Enterprise this Friday at 2:00 p.m. The signs will be unveiled and the highway dedicated to honour all fallen soldiers,
police officers, firefighters, rescue and medical personnel, and first responders who serve their nation and their community. I invite Members to attend the ceremony to honour those who contribute to our safety through their service as members of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, fire departments and emergency responders. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Minister's Statement 1-17(5): Highway Of Heroes
The Speaker Jackie Jacobson
Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Item 4, Members’ statements. Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.
Anniversary In The North
Jane Groenewegen Hay River South
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to reflect a little on the events of this past weekend as we commemorated and thought about the 20 year anniversary of this building. It was wonderful to see Members from the past here, sharing their thoughts, and it was truly inspiring.
I’m not a person who stops and ponders the past very often. I’m usually very much in the present moment and pushing forward in whatever that moment is. I was looking at the calendar just now and realized that it was 39 years ago today, on November the 4th , that my parents took a 17-year-
old to the Union Station in Toronto, the train station, and dropped her off. When my mother cried, my father said, “Don’t worry, we’ll see her soon because she won’t make it past Northern Ontario and she’ll turn around and she’ll be back,” but almost 40 years have passed. I’m like a lot of people; I chose the North. I didn’t come here with my family; I didn’t come here because my father got transferred here with the military. I was 17 years old and picked it off the map in Grade 12 geography class and I chose the North, and I chose Hay River specifically.
When the Pacific Western Airlines jet touched down on the tarmac in Hay River, I truly felt like I was home, and I have always felt like I was home. It wasn’t very long before I became involved with the Youth Justice Committee, with school boards, the town council. We talk about the North as a place of opportunity. I tell young people if you want to be involved, the Northwest Territories is a place of wonderful opportunities, you just have to look for those opportunities around you. If you are a willing helper and you will lend a willing hand, you will find many, many things to do.
That led to a position on town council when I was 22 years old, and 25 years ago then-Premier Nellie Cournoyea appointed me to the board of directors of the NWT Power Corporation, which took me all over the North and it was a wonderful experience,
which ultimately led to being elected to this Chamber.
It is definitely the North of possibilities, and as our Commissioner shared today, much of the work lies ahead. This weekend as we listened to the work that has gone before us. It is an amazing, amazing place of possibility. I look at the work we do, and some days we feel that maybe it’s not that interesting, but when we capture it as the Commissioner did today, it is a wonderful place of potential and opportunity and I’m very proud to be a part of it. Thank you.
Anniversary In The North
The Speaker Jackie Jacobson
Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.
Strengthening Municipal Enforcement Of Liquor Laws
Daryl Dolynny Range Lake
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This summer I was given the honour of accompanying local RCMP and municipal enforcement division officers as they carried out their duties. With that we owe a debt of gratitude to the members of police forces across the NWT for the hard work they do and the sacrifices they make to keep our families safe from harm.
As legislators we also have a duty to assist our local police forces to do their jobs efficiently and effectively as possible. We can do this by helping create the right legislative environment that promotes ease of enforcement. Recently at our Yellowknife town hall meeting on public safety, we were all sadly reminded of the devastating effects of alcohol abuse in our communities across the Northwest Territories. We see the impacts of this abuse on Yellowknife streets where incidents of public drunkenness and open liquor are often too common.
It is a well-known fact that alcohol is a factor in the vast majority of crimes committed in the capital city, but it is sobering to consider the facts that support this. According to Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index for 2010, Yellowknife ranked third out of 238 Canadians cities with a population over 10,000 people for severity of its crime.
Given these facts, it might come as a surprise to you, as it was to me, to learn that unlike the RCMP, municipal enforcement officers are limited in their ability to enforce NWT liquor laws. They have the authority under the Motor Vehicles Act to make traffic stops if they suspect impaired driving on municipal streets. They also have the authority to inspect and deal with liquor infractions taking place in licenced premises, but they do not have the authority to deal with public drunkenness, open alcohol or underage drinking outside of licenced premises.
This means that our municipal enforcement officers are powerless to deal with public drunkenness even when we know that abuse of alcohol is the single biggest factor contributing to crime in the city.
This makes no sense to me. Peace officers, who have a duty to protect public safety, whether they are RCMP officers or municipal enforcement officers, should have the tools and authority they need to deal with all alcohol infractions. Members of the public would expect no less.
Enhancing the authority of municipal enforcement officers to effectively deal with alcohol infractions can only serve to reduce the frequency of alcohol-related problems, which in turn can help reduce the alarming incidents of crime plaguing our city and communities.
I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.
---Unanimous consent granted
Strengthening Municipal Enforcement Of Liquor Laws
Daryl Dolynny Range Lake
I am hopeful, through proper process, Members in this House will have the ability to consider this issue requesting the Minister of Finance to discuss and bring forward any amendments to the Liquor Act or other legislation as required to provide municipal enforcement officers with the authority to adequately enforce liquor infractions. The end goal will allow any municipality within the municipal enforcement presence to fully enforce NWT liquor laws within municipal boundaries if they choose to do so.
Strengthening Municipal Enforcement Of Liquor Laws
The Speaker Jackie Jacobson
Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.
Treatment Of Income Assistance Clients
Michael Nadli Deh Cho
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, I must return to an unpleasant topic which has already received considerable air play in this House this year. That topic is the rude treatment of income assistance clients from government officers who administer the program.
The March 2013 Auditor General’s report contained shocking confirmation of service delivery failures. We heard Education, Culture and Employment is inconsistent in its treatment of clients. We heard that front-line workers don’t receive enough guidance or training. Income assistance officers were also found to be overburdened with case files and were found to perform too many of their duties without adequate supervision from managers.
I represent the Hay River Reserve and I’ve heard numerous recent accounts about rude behaviour from income assistance officials. There seems to be a culture of condescension towards people who rely on this government service. There are no checks and balances when allegations and
decisions are made by government officers. There are also reported disparities in payments from one client to the next.
The Hay River Reserve is an economically depressed area. There aren’t a lot of job opportunities. For many of my constituents who live there, the Income Assistance program is the last line of defence against the line regarding poverty.
Income security programs were designed to assist our most vulnerable citizens. When these clients are treated rudely and with contempt, that’s just plain unacceptable. I must reiterate statements already made in this House. Treating clients with respect and dignity should be a non-negotiable principle of public service. To treat clients with rudeness and contempt is to violate a sacred trust. It is painful enough for people to have to rely on the Income Security Program. It is simply unbearable when they have to endure rude and stigmatizing treatment.
During oral questions I will have questions for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.
Treatment Of Income Assistance Clients
The Speaker Jackie Jacobson
Thank you, Mr. Nadli. Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.
Public Sector Salary Disclosure
Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, I’d like to raise the concern of publishing our public sector salaries. I’m referring to our senior public service, not those who are in the middle or the lower end of the pay scale. This obviously has true accountability and transparency measures and wants that are desperately called for by the public.
In the past, I’ve pointed out that New Brunswick, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba and B.C. have seen the light on this particular issue, and each province, in their own way, have found a range of salary and public disclosures to ensure that they continue to publicly show accountability and transparency to the public. I think it’s time for the Northwest Territories to look at publishing salaries over $100,000 a year.
It’s our time, as I’ve said, to do our part to demonstrate public accountability on public expenditures. But, to date, there is no mechanism in place, or I should say, rather, there are mechanisms preventing public transparency.
Each person like myself who would file a public access to information request, all I would receive back is either nothing or, of course, it would be so redacted it would be a waste of everyone’s time. Although I’ve thought about providing an access to information request, and I haven’t consulted Mr. Dolynny how many pop cans that may take, the fact is that it would cost a lot of money and waste everyone’s time. So it’s time this government looks to start addressing public transparency.
As I said, other provinces have done this. I have even gone to, oddly enough, the Vancouver Sun website and they actually publish by name, title, agency, sector, remuneration in the year and, of course, they also point out where this individual ranks. It’s funny; I just typed in the last name Clark and up popped the fellow who makes over $820,000 a year, and he is third out of 1,000 employees in B.C. Ferries, he is also seventh overall out of almost 10,000 Crown corporations, and he’s still seventh overall out of 70,000-plus employees.
The public demands accountability of where their money is going. The government will in some cases rightly argue these are privacy rules, but the demands of public disclosure, transparency, accountability and certainly the public good should stand firm on reasons why we should do these things.
I will have more examples and, obviously, I will be asking questions to the Minister of Human Resources, who I hope is reading his briefing book and give the public answers that they rightly deserve. Thank you.
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