This is page numbers 2389 – 2428 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 community.

Topics

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Justice, Mr. Abernethy.

Minister's Statement 40-17(4): Department Of Justice Human Resources Plan For The Future
Ministers’ Statements

Great Slave

Glen Abernethy Minister of Justice

Mr. Speaker, through their ability to motivate and serve as role models, many staff in the Department of Justice make a significant difference in the lives of people in the Northwest Territories.

In our 10-year strategic plan we made a commitment to our staff – and ultimately the public they serve – to build and maintain a strong foundation at the Department of Justice. The first step towards this goal is to create an effective human resources plan.

Our plan will build and support a northern workforce. To do this, we will make ongoing investments in our over 500 employees, many of whom work in high-risk environments. They work with offenders or support people in crisis or transition. Both front-line and management staff need to have appropriate training so they have the tools, resources and support to fulfill their duties while maintaining the safety and well-being of their clients, colleagues, themselves and the public.

Most Justice staff work in the corrections field in Hay River, Fort Smith and in the two facilities in the North Slave region. Our facilities operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our probation officers work in communities throughout the Northwest Territories. These corrections positions can be stressful and we see frequent turnover.

The department also has specialists in the legal field who represent the government in court, draft legislation, or help families and individuals in their legal issues. Our professional staff ensure courts have the support necessary to see justice served

throughout our system and perform the necessary functions to ensure the smooth running of government systems. Our people have great experience and extensive training; they are a talented collection of individuals.

To ensure we are listening to our staff in a manner that is both meaningful and effective, we offered each employee an opportunity to participate in focus groups on HR issues. Corrections staff participated one on one with an independent surveyor to answer questions about their training and working environment. To ensure replies were anonymous, all personal identifiers were removed. We are using all of this information to develop the human resources plan.

The results were interesting, Mr. Speaker. Employees trusted us enough to provide honest answers. We found the majority of our staff enjoy their jobs, their co-workers and the department as a whole. They feel their work is challenging and interesting. They were also clear about the work that needs to be done. Our management teams are preparing to address these issues.

We will plan for succession in management positions and operations that are vulnerable to staffing changes. As well, we will be refining the recruitment and training model used for corrections and courts to encourage NWT residents to consider joining us in a career in the justice field.

By strengthening our capacity and resiliency, we will maintain the strong foundation that allows us to provide change and gives innovation room to thrive. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 40-17(4): Department Of Justice Human Resources Plan For The Future
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

Long John Jamboree, March 14-17, 2013
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. According to the Long John Jamboree website, in exactly seven days, 21 hours, 24 minutes and 46 seconds, Yellowknife will enjoy and host our 2nd Annual Long John Jamboree on the ice of the Great Slave Lake in Yellowknife Bay.

My praise and admiration goes out to the many organizers and volunteers that are working feverishly behind the scenes in preparation for one of the “Gotta Go!” winter festivals in Canada.

The organizers for this year are promising even more great events and activities both on and off the ice. We’ve been promised the return of the kids’ tent, music, Terriers and Tiaras, Flaunt your Skivvies, ice hockey, the Snowking Festival, fireworks, artisans, and the MLAs’ favorite, the ultimate trivia contest.

This trivia contest is where the Yellowknife MLAs teach the local media teams a thing or two about overall knowledge and the supremacy of smartness.

We know that CBC narrowly won last year because of Mr. Paul Andrew anchoring the team. However, this year, Mr. Speaker, the Yellowknife MLA team has been training for months and we’ve been put on a restrictive diet of contraband Bathurst caribou meat and Sahtu special tea.

It would be rude of me not to mention last year’s third and last place Northern News Service team; however, like in any competition, who really remembers the bronze medalists anyway? Sorry, Mr. Mike Bryant, but you know that’s the truth.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important to mention the return of the De Beers-inspired ice carving competition. This is only one of four “big block” harvested ice competitions in the world. It is now deemed the final event of the season for the National Ice Carving Association circuit.

Events like this do not just happen on their own. It takes leadership and commitment to see such a success transpire. Therefore, I would like to thank these Yellowknife volunteer leaders for making this all possible: Adrian Bell, Julia Mott, Cory Vanthuyne, Michelle Demeule, Janet Pacey, Jacqueline McKinnon, Claire Smith, Brad Morrissey, Andre Corbeil, Keith McNeill and Nancy McNeill.

In closing, I would encourage all Yellowknifers and visiting Northerners to make an effort to come down to Yellowknife Bay during March 14th to 17th and

see what all the excitement is about.

Long John Jamboree, March 14-17, 2013
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Small Scale Foods Program Under Growing Forward Agreement
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Here is a story familiar to communities all over the North. The government guy comes to town in his government truck loaded with his expensive equipment and know-how. He’s there to help. He asks directions, drives to the site and gets to work.

Locals watch curiously as another government project takes shape. Days pass and stuff happens until, duty done, the government guy loads up and is gone. Who was that masked man?

From what I hear, that’s a pretty good description of the ITI delivery model for the Small Scale Foods Program under the Growing Forward Agreement. The ITI agricultural worker has spent the annual $245,000 in funding. Yes, we have dutifully tallied the mounting number of local gardens spreading across our communities. Yes, we can claim 30 community gardens, but feedback indicates that’s a very hollow claim.

In contrast, modest investments or contributions to non-government organizations like the Territorial Farmers Association, Ecology North and the Arctic Energy Alliance have netted real community engagement, buy-in and capacity building. The Lutselk’e, Simpson and Fort Resolution community gardens are great examples. Watered and weeded by gardeners in the making, the communities harvest the bounty of their own care and attention. Nothing tastes so good. Beyond that, though, community residents very soon use new-found skills and enthusiasm to take on leadership roles themselves.

Fortunately, I have begun hearing that government has realized the drive or fly in, put in the garden, and leave modus operandi is less than ideal. Gardens and gardeners don’t grow untended. The Minister’s office says three ITI regional offices will be taking on delivery of the Small Scale Foods Program. While I’m happy to support regional roles, I am leery of seeing new positions carry on in the same old way. Based on real partnership results, the approach should be to enhance meaningful support of groups that know how to do community outreach and capacity building.

We’re talking about supporting a school of agriculture with funds from Growing Forward 2. A community-wise component of local engagement and mobilization should be part of that new curriculum. Community folks are saying that drive-by gardens don’t work. Let’s use a proven approach that emphasizes local control with efficient non-government organization expertise to build self-reliance.

Small Scale Foods Program Under Growing Forward Agreement
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Information And Privacy Legislation For Municipal Government
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. One of the statutory officers of this Assembly is the Information and Privacy Commissioner. The commissioner does excellent work, not only carrying out her regular duties but also advocating for areas in need

of further attention. Unfortunately, the government is not heeding all of her recommendations.

For almost 10 years now the Information and Privacy Commissioner has recommended that this government amend the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy legislation, ATIPP, to include municipal governments under the act. This has yet to happen. The most recent Information and Privacy Commissioner Annual Report, 2011-2012, again highlighted this need. The NWT Association of Communities has resolutions on their books for the past six years asking for a change in legislation.

Each year the Information and Privacy Commissioner receives a number of complaints from residents about municipal actions, specifically the way municipalities are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information. In 2011-2012 there were two such privacy complaints about municipalities but they weren’t actioned because the Information and Privacy Commissioner has no authority or jurisdiction under the ATIPP Act to deal with complaints against municipalities. Even when the Information and Privacy Commissioner tried to engage these two municipalities in discussions around the protection of privacy of employee information and policy, she was refused.

Currently, without access and privacy legislation applying to municipalities, there are no legislative constraints on NWT municipalities. Even though they all collect and retain significant amounts of personal information about their citizens and their employees, there is no oversight and no recourse for citizens when information is improperly used, nor are there any rules which allow citizens access to the information that municipalities create and collect.

I realize that municipalities face capacity and staffing issues, but the government, through MACA, has to accept responsibility to help their communities, to help them with ATIPP. But the burden on municipalities, if they are included under ATIPP, is acceptable when compared to the potential violation of individuals’ rights to privacy and protection of their own information. Of all Canadian jurisdictions, the three territories are the only ones without information and privacy legislation for municipalities. It’s long past time for this government to take action on amending the ATIPP Act. It really must be made a priority. Mr. Speaker, as you like to say, let’s get ‘er done.

Information And Privacy Legislation For Municipal Government
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Discretionary Leave For Teachers Coaching Community Sports
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Something very troubling has come to my attention

and I feel the need to raise this issue in the House today.

Last week a letter went to parents of biathlon athletes in my community from their long-time coach, who is also a teacher in Hay River. Although I cannot read the whole letter in my Member’s statement, I would like to draw your attention to some parts of this letter. It reads:

“It is with much sadness and disappointment that I must share with everyone that I will be stepping down as the head coach of the Hay River Biathlon Team and Ski Club. I will finish out the season and continue to lead practices and coordinate the Polar Cup races and the Ptub races this year.

My reason for having to step down is the ongoing lack of support, which I have received over the years from my employer when it comes to volunteering and coaching the Hay River Biathlon Team. The latest reminder of this came when I required one hour of class time off in order to leave with the team, only to be told that I would have to apply for a half-day of discretionary leave and be responsible for covering the cost of a substitute teacher with being away, despite having another teacher offer to fill in for me for that one hour. As a teacher, I do not have lieu time or annual leave that I can draw from, so there are no options when your request for leave is denied.

This is just an example of numerous other requests in the past to coach our team, but with similar feedback. I feel that I am put in a position in which I am continually letting our athletes down as I cannot travel with them to competitions, especially after many, many weeks and months of preparation that we put in leading up to these competitions. It has been explained to me that the reason for this is that biathlon is not a school sport and, therefore, I am not entitled to the same leave as a basketball coach, for example.”

The letter goes on to explain the reasons why he decided to step down.

This teacher has been coaching in Hay River for more than 10 years. He has poured himself into his work, dedicating hundreds of hours each season, sacrificing his time and efforts to offer his services on a voluntary basis. It is not easy to find people who are willing, capable and qualified to make this type of commitment, and our government, unfortunately, does little to support teachers that coach outside of school sports. This teacher was only requesting a short amount of time from the workplace to be with these athletes. He is coaching kids, providing opportunities for them to be involved in sport within Hay River. He is also on the Hay River Ski Club and NWT Biathlon Board, and works

to fundraise and plan for many opportunities for our youth.

It is also incredibly demoralizing to put so much into a program and then have so little support and recognition from your employer.

I’d like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Discretionary Leave For Teachers Coaching Community Sports
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

The only games that are covered by the Human Resource Manual for approved leave are that associated with Arctic Winter Games, Canada Winter Games or national level championships. There is no leave for work as a teacher in our community with a group of youth outside the school setting. This is further compounded by the messages in the media that you hear about the importance of volunteering and giving back to the youth in our community.

Youth are a very high priority of this government, and I don’t think we should distinguish between school sports and community sports. I don’t think that money can buy the kind of contribution that a coach like this makes, and it’s not the fault of the school and it’s not the fault of the principal. It is a policy that needs to be looked at.

Discretionary Leave For Teachers Coaching Community Sports
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. The Member for Hay River North, Mr. Bouchard.

NWT Electoral Boundaries Commission
Members’ Statements

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise to discuss one of the commissions that are going around the Northwest Territories, the NWT Electoral Boundaries Commission. I’d like to talk about this commission and its involvement throughout the communities. Right now they are in the process of doing public consultation and we’ve given them direction to go out in the Northwest Territories and get opinions from the residents of the Northwest Territories to see what we do for electoral districts. Do we want 18, 19 or 21 MLAs?

They had a meeting last night in Hay River and it was very poorly attended, sadly to say. I just want to encourage all the Members and everybody else in the Northwest Territories, to attend the upcoming events. There is one on K’atlodeeche tonight at Chief Lamalice Complex from 7:00 until 9:00. Tomorrow, on Thursday night, there is one in Lutselk’e. Next week we have one, on March 10th ,

in Inuvik. There is one in Aklavik on March 11th , one

in Yellowknife here on March 12th and one in Detah

on March 13th . The commission is also taking

submissions either on-line, at www.nwtboundaries.ca, or you can write the Commissioner and give your comments there. We need public input into this important issue. As MLAs, we will be deciding the fate of the future of

the Northwest Territories, but we need feedback from the general public and we need to hear from them. Thank you very much.