This is page numbers 2143 – 2196 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 services.

Topics

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Ministerial Performance Expectations
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We’re getting to the midway point of our term in the 17th Legislative Assembly, and as I have been

known to do on occasion in the past, sometimes we like to talk about ministerial performance. I don’t have any speaking notes here, so I’m just going to wing this.

When we come here elected as 19 Members, we come here all as equals, all equally elected. Then we go into our territorial leadership and choose seven from amongst us to sit and hold positions of responsibility and leadership in certain areas of government performance. In my opinion, the “us” and “them” begins, which I think is a problem, but we continue to work on it. It’s our form of government. I think it needs to be reviewed and I think it needs to be looked at. We call it consensus government but it has traits of party politics, which is kind of a hybrid. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work that well, which I think we can all talk about.

When we choose the seven from amongst us to take on these special roles and responsibilities, we have expectations, I think, from all of us, because we’re all MLAs. Even if we’re Cabinet Ministers, we’re still MLAs and we all come here hoping to make a difference and use our contribution to better things. I believe we’re all here for noble and very good motives.

From this side of the House, the things that we look for in our leaders on the opposite side of the House is we would like them to be hardworking. We would like them to be knowledgeable so that when we ask

them questions, they can answer them. We would like them to have good communication skills. We would like them to be very responsible to the tasks before them. Obviously, they are all honest and honourable Members. We expect honesty. We expect sensitivity. If they are a Member who represents a large city, we expect them to be sensitive to the issues that we bring to them on behalf of our constituents that might be unique to our region or community. We like sensitivity. We’d like them to keep a global perspective, that they’re there to represent the entire Northwest Territories with fairness and equity.

Having said that, I don’t know if I have time. I had jotted down some comments on each one of these folks, but now I see that the clock is ticking here and I don’t know if I’ll have enough time. Maybe I’ll have to make that my statement for tomorrow. It’s unanimous consent to conclude your statement, not to extend your statement. I will leave it at that for today. Tomorrow is theme day, but I’ll get it in there tomorrow. It’s actually theme day on bullying so it will have to be very, very nice.

Ministerial Performance Expectations
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Shane Koyczan Anti-Bullying Video “to This Day”
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow is Anti-Bullying Day, otherwise known as Pink Shirt Day. Now, I know this is the eve of what should be another great awareness day, but I wanted to make sure that I left everyone here today with a homework assignment in preparation for tomorrow.

In preparing for tomorrow, I came across a unique video by Shane Koyczan on bullying that has been going absolutely viral. Shane Koyczan is a BC poet who is definitely no stranger to being bullied as a kid. In fact, if you recognize the name, it’s probably because you remember him from his inspired performance at the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony where he read his poem We Are More.

Earlier this year Koyczan, who admits that bullying can leave psychic scars that can last for years, teamed up with artists from all over the world to

animate a seven-minute video called To This Day. In this video Koyczan narrates a poem of his experiences of being bullied in school, as well as two other victims: a girl with a birthmark on her face and a boy who struggles with depression. This is a powerful animation that tackles bullying head on and strikes a nerve with everyone who experiences the vulnerability of his storytelling. To This Day is a wonderful animated tool that can help schools and families confront the problem of bullying, or at least allow for the starting point of discussion.

I’ll leave you with this: If you think this is just another southern artist who doesn’t understand what bullying means in the North or has any clue of what it means to be of First Nation heritage, I beg you to think again. Shane Koyczan is a true Northerner, born here in Yellowknife, and had a childhood of being bullied right here. His story is our story.

My pink shirt is ready. My pink tie is ready. Let’s get ready for tomorrow, shall we? Before we do, I ask everyone here at the Assembly and listening in, to take a minute to watch Shane Koyczan’s To This Day with your kids.

Shane Koyczan Anti-Bullying Video “to This Day”
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Impacts Of Comprehensive Economic And Trade Agreement (Ceta)
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Canada is currently negotiating with the European Union for a Canada-Europe trade agreement. It has been some four years in the making and, I gather, they’re finally getting to a possible end point. Much of the negotiations have been withheld from the public, but provinces and territories, at least, are party to the negotiations. We have to hope that our interests around this agreement are being adequately represented by our government, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

So why should I discuss a federal issue here in the NWT Assembly? Well, because this agreement has the potential to impact our government, our residents, and we should be concerned about that. A submission from Alternatives North last year stated it is precisely the people and small businesses in the NWT who stand to lose the most should CETA become a reality.

The question for me is what will Canada give up during negotiations to satisfy the European Union and reach the agreement the federal government seems so desperate to achieve. The most recent negotiations were just last week and the European Union trade commissioner has been quoted as saying, “On a number of issues they have to make additional steps. What was on the table is not enough. Very simple.”

A few weeks ago a radio commentator stated we know what Europe wants. We don’t know what Canada is willing to give up. That’s my concern. What will Canadian citizens lose and is our territorial government fighting to keep that from happening? They are the only ones who can represent our interests to the federal government.

The intent of CETA is to open new markets for Canadian goods, and I’m all for that. But what I cannot conscience is an agreement that ends up costing Canadians more for certain goods and services, and that’s a distinct possibility. The likeliest culprit is the European Union demand for extended patents on prescription drugs. This remains one of Canada’s most difficult decisions in these negotiations as drug costs for provinces and territories could jump significantly.

If the European demand is agreed to, Canadians will not be able to use generic drugs for five years, instead of the current two or three years. With the cost difference between generic and patented drugs, we could see our own government drug costs increase a great deal.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Impacts Of Comprehensive Economic And Trade Agreement (Ceta)
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

The GNWT has to make sure that Canada understands the impact such a change will have on us and our hold-the-line fiscal strategy, as we hear very often from Mr. Miltenberger. My fingers are crossed that the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment will adequately negotiate on our behalf before CETA is concluded.

Impacts Of Comprehensive Economic And Trade Agreement (Ceta)
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.

Deh Cho Perspective On Devolution Negotiations
Members’ Statements

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Both the Premier and the former federal Minister have said they expect to have a final Devolution Agreement very soon. I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but First Nations in my constituency are not participating at the devolution table. The Dehcho First Nations would like to see movement in their own negotiations to finalize the land use plan for the region before devolution goes ahead. As well, they strongly believe that 25 percent of what the GNWT gets shared with all regional Aboriginal governments is not a fair allocation of resource revenues.

From the First Nations’ perspective, devolution, so far, is nothing but a GNWT money and self-government grab. Most First Nations don’t have self-government agreements. In spite of reassurances, it’s hard to see how devolution won’t prejudice these negotiations. In fact, the possibility

of Dehcho First Nation’s involvement in devolution is one reason the K’atlodeeche First Nation recently left the regional lands and resources table. As Chief Roy Fabian said, we’re not willing to give up our jurisdiction to anybody until we are finished negotiating.

I must ask what has the GNWT given up or compromised on to reach this deal. What more will they give up for a final agreement? I’m concerned that this deal is already forcing us to inherit environmental and resource management arrangements weakened by the recent federal omnibus bill. Can the regions and small communities even count on a share of the 170 jobs to be transferred to the GNWT after devolution? Devolution should be good for everybody, but will it be good for First Nations in my constituency?

I will have questions for the Premier later today. Mahsi.

Deh Cho Perspective On Devolution Negotiations
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. The Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

First Aid Training For High School Students
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The recent tragedy along our highways has once again reaffirmed and reminded us about how important our first responders are. They are critical to the fabric of the Northwest Territories and certainly to the health of the people. It’s only in times when urgency is required we often think about what pillar of society that they play and that important role that they represent.

Not everyone has the experience and training a first responder typically would go through, and depending on where you are in the sense of where you’re located in the Northwest Territories as a first responder, will sometimes in some ways, unfortunately, dictate the type of level and skills you’ll get. What I’m saying is large centres may have the benefit of having more training than other, maybe, small centres, which is a problem in itself.

I draw this type of dichotomy out only to talk about in a way what we could be doing. A number of months ago, I raised the issue of teaching First Aid to our youth who are in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12, and I’ve heard from a number of teachers where they thought this was a great idea. The schools would like to do this, but they’re unable to do it under the current funding model.

The question that really rises is why wouldn’t we be teaching them First Aid? It’s such a critical skill. How many skills out there do we learn over the course of our lifetime that we can say that skill can actually save someone’s life?

It’s been well written, well documented, well said many times over that even bad First Aid is better

than no First Aid. There are critical components of First Aid that are so meaningful. I look around the room and even across the territory, and First Aid has seen results by first responders who have taken even the basics, who have gone out and rescued and changed a person’s life by being able to be there to help them and save them.

These are skills that we could be giving back in a way where we’ll say we’re saving our community, we’re protecting our community, we are giving to our future. In short, the importance of such a skill is such a liberty that we should not be hiding it and keeping it confined to a very few. Let’s unshackle the inability for everyone to have it, and say today, this territory will lead by example, we will show the rest of Canada we are forward-thinking as a government and as a people, and we will teach all our students in grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 First Aid, because as I said earlier, the skill is a lifesaving skill and who knows, the life it may save may be one of ours. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First Aid Training For High School Students
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Home Ownership Units Vacancy Rates In Nahendeh Constituency
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. I just want to speak about the vacancy rates throughout the Northwest Territories and particularly my riding of Nahendeh. There is some recent documentation, I believe my colleague Mr. Bromley received, that shows that there's a 32 percent vacancy rate in our home ownership units throughout the Northwest Territories. That means that one out of every three homes that we’ve built remains empty. With respect to my constituency of Nahendeh, the vacancy rate is actually 25 percent, so one out of four homes that we built in Nahendeh remains empty to this day.

Especially with the riding that has the highest core need in the most recent Housing Needs Survey that we had, I think some of the solutions that we had in the past was having a community liaison worker in each of the communities as a part-time position. I believe that this will go a long ways; it did in the past. Whereas, if the community liaison worker is in the community addressing and working with the clients there, I know that as I’ve travelled to my communities, often when the regional staff make visits, they’re doing their best at making visits, their clients are out of town travelling and they miss their appointments. So they’re often asking me, when is Housing coming. I say, well, they were just here last week. They say, well, they didn’t know about it. However, a liaison worker will know this, will work with the clients; in fact, maybe even upping the number of applications that the corporation receives.

I would like to urge the Minister to look at the past practice, because we do want to house people. It’s a shame in the communities that I visit, there are empty houses and people are in need, and they’re seeing empty houses. I know the Minister has a strategy and I’d like to ask some questions during the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.