This is page numbers 2655 – 2684 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 health.

Topics

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back as we reconvene the Fourth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly.

Two thousand thirteen and 2014 will be an exceptionally busy year for all government and the Legislative Assembly. With great assurance, I can say that all Members are engaged in a significant amount of work while the House recessed. A majority of the work was geared towards committees and constituent duties. In the midst of all the activities, I hope Members found an opportunity to spend time with their families and loved ones.

It was an honour this month to host the 12th Youth

Parliament. I was honoured to meet all 19 youth members, and I can tell you, colleagues, that the future of the Northwest Territories does look bright. The youth took your seats in the Chamber, and with poise and confidence made Members’ statements, Ministers’ statements and debated four very interesting motions.

These young people also enjoyed recreational time networking with other youth from the North and increasing their knowledge of this vast territory. Thank you to the students for showcasing leadership skills and making this program a success. Thank you to their parents and teachers for providing support, and to our public affairs staff for delivering an interesting Youth Parliament 2013.

Members, today I would like to honour the memory of a woman who was an inspiration to many. On Tuesday, April 30th , Canada lost an inspirational

female athlete and a sporting trailblazer. Shirley Firth-Larsson passed away in her home in Yellowknife with her family. She was 59.

As you know, Shirley grew up in Aklavik and Inuvik as a member of the Gwich’in First Nation. Shirley, together with her sister Sharon, was the first Aboriginal woman to be a fourth-time Olympian and a member of Canada’s National Ski Team representing Northwest Territories and Canada in cross-country skiing in the Olympics from 1972 to

1984. They received multiple national and territorial awards and were inducted into several halls of fame.

Marcel Aubut, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, paid this tribute: “Olympian Shirley Firth-Larsson lived an inspiring life, filled to the brim with accomplishments the likes of which many athletes can only dream. As a 29-time national champion and four-time member of the Canadian Olympic Team, she proudly represented Canada and the North, serving as a shining example of excellence to Aboriginal women everywhere. Her contribution to sport and to Canada will not be forgotten.”

After retiring from competition, Shirley and her family spent 23 years in France and returned to the Northwest Territories in 2005.

The North has lost an amazing person. She will be missed by many people. Shirley has left behind a legacy for all NWT athletes, residents, and all of Canada. She is a role model that will be remembered for her dedication to sport, supporting a healthy lifestyle. Shirley was a strong advocate for women and mothers and believed in the importance of pursuing education no matter your situation or age, but also that anyone can accomplish anything they set their minds to.

Shirley was not only my executive assistant but was a good friend. It was an absolute honour to work with her.

Members, please join me in sending sincere condolences to the family of Shirley Firth-Larsson. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my personal condolences and condolences across the Northwest Territories to families who lost loved ones in the past few months since we’ve been here.

Colleagues, it is now my duty to advise the House that I have received the following message from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. It reads:

Dear Mr. Speaker: I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 2, 2013-2014, and Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 2, 2013-2014, during the

Fourth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly.

Yours truly, George L. Tuccaro, Commissioner.

Thank you, colleagues. I know you are eager to tackle the work at hand, so let’s begin. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 56-17(4): Sessional Statement
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure and an honour to welcome back my colleagues of the Legislative Assembly as we convene for our spring sitting. I trust all our Members have enjoyed some memorable time with their families and constituents.

Mr. Speaker, this may not be a long sitting, but it will be a busy one, an ambitious one, and an important one. This session will see several of the strategies the Government of the Northwest Territories has been working on come forward, and it is also our plan to bring a motion on the proposed Devolution Agreement to Members for their review and discussion.

This Legislative Assembly has a vision of a territory where strong individuals, families, and communities share in the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable, and prosperous territory.

We want to see a Northwest Territories where our people can thrive and be healthy, where a well-managed environment contributes to our economic well-being and quality of life, and where a strong economy provides jobs and opportunities for our communities and money for government programs.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to achieving this vision of economic development, social progress, and environmental sustainability built on a foundation of strong consensus government.

In the coming session, Mr. Speaker, Members will hear about work the government is doing to grow and diversify our economy, support our people, manage our environment, and make government more effective and efficient.

While that is the work of 13 separate departments, Mr. Speaker, the work is not separate. Our efforts are connected and guided by our shared vision, and progress in one area often serves to support progress in another.

A strong territory that supports its people starts with a strong economy, Mr. Speaker, and the Northwest Territories has the potential to be an economic powerhouse. We have a wealth of mineral resources, including diamonds, gold, tungsten and rare earths.

We are home to world-class oil and gas reserves in the Deh Cho, Central Mackenzie, Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea. We have hydro potential that could rival James Bay.

Based on this potential, the Conference Board of Canada has predicted that the North’s GDP will double by 2020. There are seven mining projects currently in the works that could attract more than $2 billion in new investment and add over 2,000 new jobs in our territory.

Development of the oil resources in the Central Mackenzie and predicted increases in the price of and demand for Arctic natural gas could help to re-establish the economic viability of the Mackenzie Gas Project.

That project could contribute $68 million to the Northwest Territories economy, $86 billion to the national economy, and create over 200,000 person years of employment. Oil and gas companies have committed to spending $635 million in the Sahtu and $2.2 billion to develop offshore leases in the Beaufort, with more parcels coming up.

Clearly, the future for our territory and its people is bright. Managing and guiding that potential so that our residents can benefit from jobs and economic opportunities far into the future is one of the most important tasks we face as a government.

That is why we are developing the Mineral Development Strategy, which will support increased mineral exploration expenditures, ensure long-term sustainability of the minerals sector, maximize resident employment and business opportunities, and increase value-added opportunities for our territory.

It is why we are working on the Economic Opportunities Strategy, which is being developed with the input and assistance of leading experts, stakeholders and the public. It will guide our actions and identify approaches and options for growing and diversifying our economy, providing opportunities for our residents in all our communities and regions.

A strong economy needs access to affordable energy, and we are working on an energy plan and plans for developing our hydro resources and transmission lines that will help support economic growth and help replace expensive diesel with less expensive, renewable energy.

We are also working to further diversify the economy.

Responsible management of our economy means not putting all our eggs in a single basket. That is why our government is providing support and programming for activities that add value to Northwest Territories products and services, build business capacity, and expand the skills of NWT residents and businesses.

Creating a strong, diversified economy is one of the best ways we have of supporting our people. A strong economy creates sustainable and vibrant communities. It provides jobs and opportunities so people can support themselves and their families, realize their aspirations, and avoid poverty.

But we are not saying that people must do it all on their own. We recognize that the government has a role to play in helping people achieve personal success.

We need to create an environment of education, of good health that enhances the ability of all individuals to participate in the economic growth that we are generating. We must work to build a strong and caring society that provides for its residents fairly and justly, creating the conditions for success and offering support and assistance where it is necessary.

During this session we will be tabling our Anti-Poverty Strategy, developed in collaboration with Aboriginal governments, business and industry, and the NGO sector. This strategy will help to focus our government’s ongoing efforts to support our people, particularly our most vulnerable people, with dignity and respect and address the root causes of poverty in our territory.

We will bring forward recommendations from the Minister’s Forum on Addictions and Community Wellness. Their recommendations will help us develop practical, community-based approaches to dealing with this issue that still challenges so many of our fellow Northerners.

During this session our government will bring forward a renewed Early Childhood Development Framework. The early years are when our children develop the physical, thinking, language, emotional and social abilities that will stay with them for a lifetime. Supporting children at this stage in their lives is one of the best ways that we will be able to ensure that Northerners are healthy, educated, and free from addictions and mental health challenges.

You will also be hearing about our new Community Safety Strategy during this session. Sustainable communities that support our residents are safe communities. With this strategy our government will support communities to develop their own plans for identifying and addressing their priorities for community safety.

Our government believes in responsible stewardship, Mr. Speaker. A healthy environment sustains healthy people, and the land has long been a source of wealth for our residents. We have a responsibility to manage our natural resources sustainably for the long-term benefit of the people of the Northwest Territories.

We continue work on a land use and sustainability framework that will guide how land management decisions will be made after devolution, a critical

factor in sustainable development. During this session we will be tabling a report on our consultations with the public and Aboriginal governments on this framework.

Members will hear during this session about the efforts we have made to conserve energy in government buildings. We have a Solar Strategy and an updated Biomass Strategy, both released late last year. We are actively engaged in the negotiation of transboundary water agreements to ensure sustainable management of shared resources. We have a proposed Wildlife Act that is currently before committee. We look forward to the passage of this bill as a further testament to our balanced and responsible management of our rich natural heritage.

The reality is that our prosperity is, and will be, founded in our natural resource wealth for the foreseeable future. Our land and waterways are critical to our prosperity and our quality of life.

To benefit from our resources, we must develop them; but to ensure today’s prosperity endures for future generations, we must do so responsibly. Our collective challenge will be to find a way to develop our resources responsibly, sustainably, with due regard to the value that Northerners have always placed on the land and environment. I have no doubt that we are up to that challenge.

I should note, Mr. Speaker, that these strategies have been shaped by our government’s ongoing discussions and engagement with residents, communities and Aboriginal governments. This is how we do things, and this is how we will continue to do things. This territory is built on partnerships and collaboration, and central to this approach is our tradition of working together with our Aboriginal governments.

Our Aboriginal Engagement Strategy and our continuing record of reaching out to Aboriginal governments demonstrates our commitment to be inclusive and collaborative in all that we do.

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year I had the honour of leading a delegation to Ottawa, a delegation that included all Members of our Cabinet and a large number of Members from this House. We worked to raise awareness of our territory but also, more specifically, to draw attention to a number of our priorities: the Mackenzie Valley Highway, the Mackenzie Valley fibre optic line, the importance and challenges of northern housing, the importance of responsible environmental stewardship, and the vast resource potential of our territory.

Of course, we also promoted devolution. I personally spoke with the Prime Minister about devolution and urged him to see our negotiations through quickly to a mutually beneficial conclusion.

Two months ago we had the pleasure of hosting Prime Minister Harper and the leaders of the

Inuvialuit Regional Council, NWT Metis Nation, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, Gwich’in Tribal Council and Tlicho Government in Yellowknife. During that visit we had the honour of announcing with the Prime Minister that our governments had concluded our negotiations toward a Devolution Agreement. As the Prime Minister said that day: “The heavy lifting is done, the issues are resolved, and negotiators have reached consensus on the terms of a final Devolution Agreement.”

Since that time the Government of the Northwest Territories has been engaging residents across the territory to hear their views of the proposed agreement. We are prepared to take a major step in the development of our territory, and we want to make sure people understand what is in the deal and what it means for all of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, devolution will be the most significant event this House and its Members have considered since division. With devolution, we, the people of the Northwest Territories, will have control over our land and resources. We will have control over our resource royalties. We will have greater control over our destinies. We will have the fiscal foundation and means to legislate and govern better, in the interests of our people, and to advance their priorities in a more responsive manner.

We will be making decisions here, in the Northwest Territories, for the people of the Northwest Territories. We are coming of age and fulfilling a process of increasing northern control that began in 1967 and has continued over the years. This territory, which has been a cradle for much of Canada – with multiple provinces and territories having arisen out of it over the last century – will soon be taking its rightful place in Confederation. Our time has come.

Mr. Speaker, it is our intention to introduce a motion seeking this Assembly’s support for the approval of the Northwest Territories Lands and Resources Devolution Agreement. Should this motion pass, we will then proceed to sign the agreement that will see new responsibilities transferred to us on April 1, 2014.

Our government is already actively working and planning for this transfer. We have been leading engagement with the Government of Canada and with Aboriginal governments to develop effective post-devolution relationships. These include bilateral negotiations with participating Aboriginal parties on the development of a post-devolution arrangement to co-operate on land and resource management issues. It also includes work on arrangements to share a quarter of the resource revenues we earn from development on public land with participating Aboriginal governments. This is an arrangement that is not seen in any other

province or territory and speaks to our commitment to building a strong, prosperous territory in partnership with Aboriginal governments.

New responsibilities will require a new and amended legislative framework, and we will be looking to the Members of this Assembly to work with us on the introduction and passage of the many pieces of legislation we will need to have in place in time for April 2014. It will be hard work and may well require extra effort on the part of all of us, but the work will be worth it, and I hope I can count on Members’ support as we take this major step in the evolution of our territory.

Mr. Speaker, Members of this House come to each session with the interests of their constituents and of the territory in the forefront of their minds. Our collective dedication to the well-being and prosperity of all residents of the Northwest Territories is what binds us as political leaders and representatives of the people.

I know that each Member of this House takes their responsibilities very seriously and in the coming days will be called upon to make some critical decisions for the future of the people we serve. No matter where we stand on the issues before us, there is no doubt that we must be prepared to stand up and represent our constituents to the best of our abilities. There will be areas of disagreement but I hope no discord as we are all here by the choice of the people and it is our sworn duty to represent those people with forthright and respectful debate.

Mr. Speaker, this is a great territory, and we share the privilege and responsibility of governing it. The North is the future. The North’s day is just dawning. We have the people, the ingenuity, the resources, and the resolve to lead Canada and lead the world as a place in which to live, work, raise a family and find prosperity.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Minister’s Statement 56-17(4): Sessional Statement
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

I and all Members of this Assembly are going to be making history for our people. As we debate devolution, we will be debating and assenting to the birthright of our people. We will be voting to ensure decisions on northern development reflect the aspirations of the NWT residents, communities and Aboriginal governments.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all Members for their hard work in support of the vision of this Assembly and the plans of the government. I look forward to working with them in the important weeks and months ahead. This will be a time to remember, and devolution will be a gift to our children and grandchildren. It will be a legacy to be forever inscribed in the story of this great land, and we should be honoured to have a part in it. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister’s Statement 56-17(4): Sessional Statement
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Members, before we continue, I’d like to recognize former Commissioner, Speaker, Minister, MLA, Sergeant-at-Arms, Honourary Naval Captain, and Honourary Clerk of the House: Anthony W.J. Whitford. Tony, welcome back to the House.

---Applause

Item 3, Members’ statements. Mr. Bouchard.

Hay River Homecoming 2013
Members’ Statements

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise with great excitement that in Hay River on June 28th and July 1st we are having the Hay River

Homecoming. It’s an event that people are busy in Hay River right now organizing and getting things ready. We have 550 signed up on the website, and the website is hayriver2013.ca.

If you are from Hay River or you have ever lived in Hay River, we are looking for people to come back to Hay River and visit with the folks that have been there and have enjoyed the community.

We also are acknowledging some of the events and anniversaries. It’s been 50 years since the great flood in 1963. Forty years ago the DJSS, our famous purple school, was built. We just had a new renovation to it, so we are having a reopening of the facility.

As well, a couple of large companies in Hay River, long-standing companies that have been there for 40 years – Kingland Ford and Ring’s Pharmacy – are celebrating their anniversaries.

Along with all those people that are coming, we also have some celebrations that are going on. I’d like to acknowledge all the hard workers. We have Kandee Froese, chairperson for the Hay River Homecoming, and her team of people that are working.

We also have many events going on. On Friday, the 28th , we have registration and meet and greet.

Saturday, we have pancake breakfast, the reopening of DJSS, exhibition ballgame, a fish fry at the Hay River Fisherman’s Wharf, and on Sunday we have a fun-filled day. There’s a church service, blessing of the fleet and a golf tournament. On July 1st , obviously, the busy day there where we have

the flag raising event, Canada Day parade, show and shine, street fair at the Fisherman’s Wharf, high tea at the museum.

It’s a great event and we’re looking forward to seeing some of the 550 people that have signed up to this list and some of the honoured guests that are coming, Mr. Earl Jake Covert. Dr. Covert served there many years. Some of the other

people, Steve Brookes. There are many on the list and they’re all on the website, so I urge people to look on the website and get to Hay River on the long weekend.

Hay River Homecoming 2013
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. The Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Medevac Response Times
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. I want to express my sympathy to the Jumbo family of Trout Lake who lost a much-loved elder in a recent boating accident. The tragedy has been a very difficult one for everyone in the community. After the accident, CPR was done at the scene and the victim revived. She was transported to the health centre, but in the end her injuries were too severe.

I really want to thank everyone who made such a great effort to save her. You’re an example to us all.

While many people are now grieving, this accident could have been much worse. Three other people survived the crash. One had to be medevaced to Yellowknife for treatment at the Stanton Hospital.

I wish I could also offer praise and thanks to our Health department and medical travel system, but the reality is it was not responsive at all, especially considering the circumstances. People in Trout Lake were shocked by how long it took for help to arrive. No one at the Fort Simpson Health Centre picked up the emergency phone; four times they were called. Finally family called the RCMP to advise the health centre of the emergency in Trout Lake; and after this delay it took five hours for the medevac plane to get to the community. I don’t know how much more time passed before the patient arrived at the hospital, but it is safe to say it took far too long.

This kind of response time is unacceptable. It undermines our residents’ faith in the medevac system and our health system. Everyone should have the comfort of a medevac system that is reliable and responsive not only for Trout Lake but for all communities in the NWT.

I think the Minister should find out what went wrong. I will be asking those questions in the House later today. There have to be changes made to ensure that this never happens again.

Medevac Response Times
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court Program
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’ve been approached by a constituent in my community with an idea which I am completely in favour of, and that is to extend the Domestic

Violence Treatment Option court program to Hay River. This is another innovation that is so far only available in Yellowknife but could also be done elsewhere.

A person who is charged with violence against their spouse can take responsibility for their actions and enrol in a treatment program. To be accepted, the offender must plead guilty, the Crown and defence lawyers must agree that diversion from Territorial Court is appropriate, which means low-risk cases. The offender attends a pre-court meeting with the treatment team, the lawyers and bail supervisors. If all goes well, the offender begins an eight-week treatment program. It is designed to address the emotional and psychological causes of domestic violence. Additional counselling is available to work on related programs such as drug or alcohol addictions. The offender and the treatment team must report progress back to the court. The offender’s progress is fully reviewed by a judge before sentencing.

This program has great potential. It is all about rehabilitation, changing destructive behaviour, and rebuilding families and communities. I would like to see the Domestic Violence Treatment Option court expanded to Hay River, which would also benefit the nearby communities. In order to be successful wherever such a court is set up, it must have the resources necessary to assist the offender with rehabilitation. It must be effective. It cannot become a way for chronic abusers to reduce their sentences without changing their behaviour.

I do have faith in people and in the innovative work being done by our Justice department and courts, and would like to see Hay River benefit from the expansion of this program to the South Slave.

Later today I will have questions for the Minister of Justice on this topic. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court Program
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Edmonton Medevac Ambulance Facility
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Not more than two weeks ago, the residents of NWT woke up to the new GNWT medevac program for patients who normally would be transferred to the downtown Edmonton municipal airport were now being taken to the new air ambulance operations at the International airport. What is interesting is that our Minister of Health and Social Services, in a recent press release announcing this new service, indicated that they have achieved their goal in improving the quality of patient care. I’m not sure about you, but adding over 35 minutes to the backend of patient travel is not, in my mind, improving one’s chance of survival. I believe the

Minister owes the public an explanation on how this service is somehow improving our quality of care.

Furthermore, the residents are now reassured that the Alberta Health Services air ambulance facility is located in the same building as the STARS Helicopter. One would only assume that our critical patients will be whisked away to the nearest hospital by helicopter, right? Well, it appears that since the launch of this program, the STARS Helicopter has not been used once for any critical care residents. One has to ask, why use the soothing sounds of such an opportunity when in reality it is really only lip service?

Adding insult to injury, our Department of Health and Social Services and our Minister have also failed us in not addressing some of the other key barriers of this so-called new quality of patient care. What about the continuity of patient care? We now have multiple paramedic practitioners during the patient transfer. What new risks are we now exposing the patient? What about the increased risk of communication errors? Multiple practitioners, multiple patient records, multiple verbal communications all add new exposure risks to the patient transfers.

What about the lack of cultural needs for our patient? Northern patients have northern cultural needs. Our patients are unique and will these southern paramedic practitioners understand these challenges?

Finally, what about all the extra undue stress for their patients? The entire medical event of leaving the North, your home, your language, and being handed off like an orphan at the door is very traumatic in itself. Will this new magic carpet triage centre offer and create the same trusting environment of the original door-to-door service we once had? Many do not think so.

The residents of NWT deserve better. We are not orphans to be abandoned at the door of the bus stop. We deserve top-line health care, not Third World health care.

Of course, I will have more serious questions on this topic later today for the Minister of Health. Thank you.

Edmonton Medevac Ambulance Facility
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

Motive Fuel Pricing Regulation
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Northerners continue to be held hostage. This is a reality and it is far too common to hear this question. Why isn’t our government standing up for our northern people? The government would tell you they are fighting and working hard on the cost of living problem. Talk is certainly cheap. I can tell,

from looking around here, that it must have been on sale too.

We live in a time of ever increasing energy costs. Last week Northerners experienced rate shock at the pumps. Why? Because they could. That is why. No one holds them to account. Normally a free market being left up to itself is the best way to go, but I believe it only works in a vast world market. As this government continues to watch this problem go by, they do nothing.

As we all know, petroleum prices are tied to global markets and certainly to the pocketbooks and profits of those people in charge well beyond the individual jurisdiction or certainly any nation’s control. Given our remote location, our average Northerners pay some of the highest fuel prices in Canada, whether you live in Inuvik, Fort Smith, Hay River or Yellowknife. We pay and we continue to pay. Why? Because they can.

Northerners will benefit just like five other jurisdictions and provinces who decided to take charge of their motive fuel sites problem by regulating their fuels. Why? Because they care about their citizens. For example, as I have said before, New Brunswick began to regulate their fuel prices back in 2006. They regulate the ceiling price to help protect their consumers. Retail is required by law to show how much they are paying at their pumps. Why? To spur on healthy competition. That does not exist here in the North. Many northern residents will agree that we need a strong regulated system. Collectively we’re collecting signatures on the Government of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly’s on-line petition site because we need to hear Northerners’ voices. This government will continue to watch this issue float by. Why? Because they want to do nothing.

So, later today, I will be asking the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs what is he prepared to do on fuel price regulation. It may not be known as the perfect solution, but it definitely shows Northerners we’re fighting back against big oil and we care about our residents. That’s why.