This is page numbers 2283 – 2332 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 college.

Topics

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Today I would like to honour the memory of our elder Mrs. Elizabeth Blake from Tetlit Zheh, who was an example for our communities. She was a beautiful mother and a loving jijuu.

Elizabeth Blake was born on November 5, 1914, in Caribou River, Yukon Territory. She grew up living off the land, working hard to make a living. Married to Fred Blake, they had 14 children, 60 grandchildren, 89 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great-grandchildren.

Raising a large family out on the land was hard work. Elizabeth Blake enjoyed trapping, snaring rabbits and tanning moose hides. Later on, she was an active member for the Women’s Auxiliary of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church.

This hardworking woman was dedicated to her family and she made sure each member felt special.

Elizabeth Blake was a keeper of the Gwich’in culture.

Elizabeth Blake passed away on February 21, 2013. We offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

On a personal note, I never ever did go through Fort McPherson without stopping at her house to have tea with her because she’d always tell stories. She was just an awesome lady. To her families and friends, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Item 2, Ministers’ statements.

Minister's Statement 32-17(4): Changes To Home Ownership Programs
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, when we developed our strategic plan, Building for the Future, residents told us that we needed to examine our home ownership programs and

recognize the different role that home ownership plays in non-market communities, than it plays in market communities and that changes were needed to our programs to make them more effective.

Mr. Speaker, as part of our actions related to the strategic plan, we will be making significant changes to Providing Assistance for Territorial Homeownership, our main home ownership subsidy program. The changes include the way we determine subsidy levels, expands the eligible pool of clients, and significantly closes the gap between the cost of home ownership and public housing.

Our subsidy approach will use the same zone approach to group communities as is used for the public housing rent scales. Subsidies will be higher in communities with higher cost of living. To use an example, an eligible household in Fort Good Hope would be able to purchase a new home for about $140,000 after receiving a subsidy under PATH. This would mean the client would have approximately $1,500 in monthly shelter costs. This is very similar to the maximum rent charged for public housing clients.

The approach to the subsidy will be different in market communities. Housing supply and development is much different in these communities, and risks and benefits related to home ownership are different than in non-market communities.

In market communities the program will focus on helping first time homeowners and will provide support to young families and others that want to move from the rental market to become homeowners.

We will also be expanding our eligibility criteria for PATH. While the program will continue to focus on those most in need, some support will be provided to households that have income levels somewhat higher than our current income thresholds. This will mean that, for example, a household in Lutselk’e earning up to approximately $95,000 in annual income will be eligible for the full subsidy and households between $95,000 and about $145,000 will be eligible to receive 50 percent of the subsidy.

Finally, in support of the 17th Legislative Assembly’s

priority to sell public housing stock, we will introduce the Public Housing Purchase Program. This program will provide up to $25,000 in

additional support for tenants of public housing units that want to purchase their unit. The NWT Housing Corporation will be proactive in making tenants aware of this opportunity.

These program changes will take effect early in the upcoming fiscal year. Communications materials are being developed and we look forward to continuing to work with residents in partnership to help them meet their housing needs.

Mr. Speaker, these changes will help address housing needs, as directed by the priorities of the 17th Legislative Assembly, and will support strong

individuals, families and communities.Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 32-17(4): Changes To Home Ownership Programs
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 33-17(4): Canadian Partnership Against Cancer Visit
Ministers’ Statements

Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Health and Social Services

Mr. Speaker, as this Assembly is aware, cancer is the number one cause of death in the Northwest Territories. Lung cancer causes the greatest number of cancer deaths, but the most commonly diagnosed cancers are colorectal cancer in men and breast cancer in women.

When I travel to communities, this is one of the biggest concerns that people talk to me about. Our communities want to understand this disease better, and people want to know what actions they can take to change these trends.

Mr. Speaker, today representatives from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer are in Yellowknife to meet with Health and Social Services officials and invited community guests to talk about the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Action Plan on Cancer Control.

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is an independent organization that works to implement Canada’s cancer control strategy, from looking at improving prevention and screening, to conducting research and improving supportive care. Today’s meetings build on our past collaboration with this organization. Over the years the partnership has supported our healthy choices programs such as Drop the Pop. They have provided technical support to the Department and Authorities. More recently, Mr. Speaker, we turned to this organization to help us respond to requests from Fort Good Hope and Fort Resolution to help them take action against cancer.

The purpose of today’s meeting is to discuss the implementation of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis Action Plan on Cancer Control, and explore opportunities for further collaborative work.

Part of the discussions with CPAC will include a review of some of the NWT’s cancer-based initiatives. This will include looking at how we implement our cancer screening programs against colorectal, cervical and breast cancer. This will help to identify priority areas where they can support our initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, we are looking for ways to provide information on cancer to communities, and looking at how we can provide better support to individuals and families affected by cancer. We must continue to prevent cancers, where possible, through regular testing at health centres and through healthy lifestyle choices, including proper diets, exercise and avoiding drugs and alcohol.

Moving forward, we will continue to build on lessons learned from last summer’s cancer sharing circles in Fort Resolution and Fort Good Hope. I am pleased that both of these reports have been shared with communities and remain available on the department’s website.

We are also pleased that Canadian Partnership Against Cancer will return in June. This will be the first time their board of directors meet in the Northwest Territories. We look forward to hosting the board as they advance their important work to reduce the burden of cancer for all Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, today we have with us Dr. Adams and Ms. Lee Fairclough. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 33-17(4): Canadian Partnership Against Cancer Visit
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister's Statement 34-17(4): Aboriginal Languages Month
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, Aboriginal languages are important pillars of our Northwest Territories society, they create a strong sense of identity and belonging, and we must actively work with our language communities to ensure our youth identify themselves as language and cultural ambassadors. March is Aboriginal Languages Month, and I urge all language groups to actively participate in the celebration of language and culture in their communities, not only during the month of March but at every opportunity throughout the year.

In our ongoing commitment to the preservation and revitalization of Aboriginal languages, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment continues to develop language resources to encourage use in the home, community and schools. Over the past year, five Dene language apps for Apple products were developed, and we are nearing completion of the Inuvialuit and Cree language apps. The South Slave Divisional Education Council also worked with the community of Fort Resolution to create the Chipewyan

Dictionary, and students were involved in the entire process.

Mr. Speaker, we are seeing a new direction to focus our efforts in language preservation and promotion with our students and youth. Through efforts of some of our local and territorial filmmakers, media and film arts are emerging as a new opportunity to create an identity for the cultures and languages of the North. I have spoken previously about fusing our cultures with technology, and the importance of supports and resources in place for our residents that are telling their stories through these channels. I am very excited about the possibilities.

Mr. Speaker, as part of our ongoing engagement process with the language communities, the department is hosting the second annual Aboriginal Languages Symposium from March 20 to 21, 2013. One hundred twenty-five delegates from across the territory will converge in Yellowknife to discuss ways in which to promote, preserve and revitalize our Aboriginal languages, especially with young people, a group critical to our success.

The symposium will also be used as a platform to validate the Aboriginal Languages Secretariat implementation plan and priorities with stakeholders, raise awareness, and share best practices.

Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize all those who dedicate their time to revitalizing and maintaining their Aboriginal languages. Languages strengthen our greater NWT community by creating an identity and cultural foundation for all of us. As a priority of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, we will continue to further language and culture initiatives that help preserve, promote and revitalize these important pillars of our society. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 34-17(4): Aboriginal Languages Month
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 35-17(4): Nutrition Month
Ministers’ Statements

Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Health and Social Services

Mr. Speaker, March is National Nutrition Month. Nutrition Month has been celebrated worldwide since 1980 and it focuses on the importance of healthy eating and the positive impact it has on our health and well-being.

Healthy eating is important at every stage of our lives. Proper nutrition contributes to the development of healthy babies. It supports physical growth and brain development in early childhood. Kids who eat healthy foods do better at school. Young athletes need to eat well to fuel their performance. As we all grow older, healthy eating helps to avoid chronic disease.

Mr. Speaker, in Canada the increasing rates of unhealthy weights among children are becoming an epidemic. According to the Curbing Childhood Obesity report from the Public Health Agency of Canada, more than one in four childrenin Canada is overweight or obese.

This can lead to serious health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. If we do not address this now, our children will grow up to be less healthy and have shorter lives. This is why it is important that we focus on improving the health of our children by preparing healthy family meals, which means getting the healthiest ingredients and taking the time to cook healthy foods.

With busy lifestyles, we do not always cook, but we should still make sure we provide healthy food for our children to support their growth and development.

Mr. Speaker, in January Health and Social Services, and Education, Culture and Employment held an early childhood development roundtable. Everyone shared their fundamental belief that children must be given the best possible start in life.

One of the best ways to do this is to give children the foods they need for proper growth and development. This begins with pregnant mothers eating proper foods.

Once the baby is born, families and communities can best support the mom and baby by promoting breastfeeding and then giving them healthy foods to eat as they grow and develop.

Mr. Speaker, I really cannot state more strongly that parents need to invest in children right from the start with the right foods. Not only does unhealthy food risk a child’s overall health, but poor nutrition negatively affects proper brain development, making it hard for a child to learn at school.

Too many sweet foods lead to obesity and tooth decay. Too much sugar, salt and fat at an early age leads to chronic diseases. In the NWT, too many baby teeth are extracted, more than half of our population 18 years and older are either obese or overweight, and diabetes is on the rise.

The Department of Health and Social Services are taking steps to respond to these issues. This year we are working on healthy food guidelines for early childhood development. We are also sending out 2,000 dental kits to families with young children, and providing training for Healthy Family program workers.

We will create “Healthy Beginning” tool kits for early child development workers that support healthy eating and active living. Drop the Pop is supporting school-based activities to reduce high-calorie, sugar-sweetened beverages. In November the NWT/Nunavut Chapter of the Canadian Public

Health Association and the department held a workshop with representatives from local governments, NGOs and businesses that explored how communities can prevent chronic diseases by taking steps to create healthier environments through partnerships.

Mr. Speaker, healthy habits are ingrained early in life and are very hard to change as people get older. If we don’t change course, the sad truth is that today’s parents are predicted to outlive their children because they will develop chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

We must all pull together. We are doing this with partners like the Northern Nutrition Association and our very own registered dieticians. We are very proud that we have registered dietitians and members of the Northern Nutrition Association providing services through the health and social services authorities. Through partnership with the Northern Nutrition Association and authorities, there will be several events taking place to recognize National Nutrition Month. The association will host a Facebook and twitter feed, the department will post nutrition tips and nutrition videos on its website, and dietitians throughout the territory are volunteering to hold menu planning sessions for organizations such as Bailey House, and grocery store tours.

Through these initiatives and partnerships, we will help to improve the health of our territory’s children, our most valuable resource. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 35-17(4): Nutrition Month
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. The Deputy Premier, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister's Statement 36-17(4): Premier Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Bob McLeod will be absent from the House today and tomorrow to speak at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Conference in Toronto and meetings with federal Ministers in Toronto and Ottawa. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 36-17(4): Premier Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Budget Priorities In Consensus Government
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The role of Regular Members in setting spending priorities is one of the most important features of consensus government. When we insist on changes to budgets, Regular Members are expressing their highest priorities and we expect government to act.

This government has failed miserably in that over the last year and I am fed up.

Last year Members prioritized $1.25 million targeted to finalize an Early Childhood Educator Program at Aurora College to graduate fully qualified professionals. Also included were developing community family centres and supporting community early childhood programs for young families. We have now learned that of the hundreds of thousands approved for training development, very little was spent, program development was limited and the program is now stalled.

At the community level, funds committed to family centres were held until the end of the fiscal year and then dumped quickly out the door. Hundreds of thousands are apparently being reallocated in the last weeks of the year for quick and inappropriate expenditures relative to the purpose for which they were intended.

The budget was passed in June. ECE dithered over it until November before even issuing a call for proposals. Today the money is being hustled out on last minute, bulk small purchase items in a mad rush to spend it before it disappears.

Last minute expenditures include internally duplicating the program that has already been contracted out by ECE, a program that has been in place for over a decade. Now even the museum is being told to spend early childhood dollars.

This wastage is precisely what gives government the bad reputation we often have. Let’s not forget the ECE money was moved from Inclusive Schooling, so that program suffered for what gain to early childhood development?

We set priorities. Cabinet drags its feet and continues on with its own agenda. What’s the point of consensus budgeting, Mr. Speaker?

How can we have any faith in Cabinet to take direction from the will of the House with performance like this? Where were the updates and debate over reallocation if necessary?

I will be urging committees to demand spending priority work plans from Cabinet with actions, milestones and progress reports.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Budget Priorities In Consensus Government
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

I will be asking for an internal audit of how the government has performed in carrying out the Members’ amendments of past budgets, and I will seek advice from the Auditor General on the propriety of taking the money that Members vote for one cost and spending it on another. This has got to stop.