This is page numbers 5107 – 5142 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.

Topics

The House met at 10:01 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good morning, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. Sorry, Mr. Miltenberger.

---Laughter

Happy Halloween.

---Laughter

Item 3, Members’ statements. Mr. Menicoche.

On-The-Land Program For Youth
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This past July and August, a total of 22 youth from the Deh Cho participated in an on-the-land pilot program that could serve as a territorial model for early intervention of alcohol and drug use among the youth. This program was delivered in two sessions. The first two weeks were geared towards youth aged 12 to 15 and the next two weeks were for youth aged 16 to 19. The camp was held at Six Mile, approximately six miles up the river from Fort Simpson. The historic site was inhabited for hundreds of years.

The pilot program was designed to build youth culture and individual identity; increase physical activity and bush skills; provide life skills, including healthy lifestyles and emotion management and self-control; foster well-being, healthy relationships and a cultural sense of self; create enjoyable community-minded atmosphere in a wilderness environment; identify and work with future leaders or community cornerstones, youth who might be able to work at camp in the future; and engage the entire community through participation and volunteering in support of the camp.

Daily activities blended traditional on-the-land skills, and therapeutic sessions focused on achieving these goals. Eighteen youth received certificates of completion and were congratulated on their achievement at ceremonies held in Fort Simpson

and Wrigley at the end of each intake. Three youth participated in both intakes and spent a total of four weeks on the land, Mr. Speaker.

This project was made possible through the collaboration of Health and Social Services, the Dehcho Health and Social Services Authority, community stakeholders and Shakes the Dust Hope Consulting. I would especially like to recognize the local program support staff that helped deliver the program. The department is currently evaluating the lessons learned from camp this year and the results will form the development of future land-based healing programs for the youth in our territory.

That’s what I especially look forward to, Mr. Speaker, that this pilot project can branch out throughout the whole Northwest Territories and help our youth in their time of need and teach them these life skills that we certainly need in our territory. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

On-The-Land Program For Youth
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Quality And Successful Junior Kindergarten Programming
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate ECE’s plan to slow down the revised rollout of the Junior Kindergarten program. This will give all of the stakeholders, education authorities, early childhood workers, families and other early childhood care providers a chance to take stock, learn from experience and adjust the program as needed going forward.

Examples of areas needing adjustment that I hear include one-teacher classrooms overburdened by 11 four-year-olds and 12 five-year-olds, tension between existing local programs and ECE’s, lack of appropriate supervision for four-year-olds, loss of early childhood programs and jobs, and the list goes on.

What would a well-thought-out Junior Kindergarten program look like? Such a program would be embedded within a comprehensive Early Childhood Development Strategy which would give first and highest priority to the critical first three years of life, including a healthy pregnancy. This is when the most important brain development processes occur.

Early Development Index scores from testing in NWT kindergartens indicate clearly that this crucial opportunity for preparing our children for a productive life is being missed.

Secondly, we would recognize that professionals trained in early care and education are a prerequisite for quality program delivery. Without them, research says we cannot avoid unintended consequences.

We also recognize that we should not be viewing early childhood programs through the lens of schools. We know that ECD programs – early childhood development programs – are best delivered in a quieter environment than our schools typically provide. Relying on our teachers, though capable and professional, would be unfair to both them and preschool children.

Development of our JK program would draw heavily upon the best practices and lessons learned from each community, where valuable experience has been gained through the delivery of age-four programs. Hay River is blessed with six different organizations with a varying approach. Aboriginal Head Start has been active in eight communities. Pilot studies would be assessed and reported on to draw on lessons learned. These organizations must be given a leadership role in the development of community JK programs.

Lastly, the resources required for success must be in place, as those with age-four programs proclaim based on their experience. New responsibilities without new resources are a recipe for failure.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Quality And Successful Junior Kindergarten Programming
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Mr. Speaker, new responsibilities without new resources are a recipe for failure. The proposed review of JK should, therefore, focus on all of these aspects. Specifically, evaluation and subsequent planning should recognize the need for small group sizes, qualified and well-compensated early care and education personnel, development of warm and caring relationships, achievement of a language-rich environment, developmentally appropriate programs and safe physical settings. With this focus and all parties working together in true partnership, we can provide the best future for all children of the NWT. Mahsi.

Quality And Successful Junior Kindergarten Programming
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Junior Kindergarten Funding Model
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don’t often get to do this, but as I said yesterday, I want to congratulate the Premier on the content of his statement on Junior Kindergarten yesterday.

As you will have guessed from the applause, we found it gratifying to know that the executive does actually listen to Members periodically, does actually listen to us periodically when we give voice to our constituents’ concerns, and they took action to do the right thing.

But, as pointed out by Mr. Dolynny yesterday, there is still the issue of funding for the Junior Kindergarten program. Apparently there will be no change to the funding model. Education authorities will continue to have to provide a new grade in their schools without any new funding. As has been said, the funding design is flawed, very flawed.

That funding model, put in place by ECE, targets regional centres and YK schools. Why do I say that? Well, first of all, there are no reductions to board budgets for schools which have less than 120 students.

Secondly, it’s the stated view of the Premier and Education, Culture and Employment Minister that education authority surpluses are to be used up, to make up for the dollars clawed back by ECE to finance Junior Kindergarten.

Thirdly, the only boards that had budget reductions imposed in the ’14-15 school year were the boards that did not have Junior Kindergarten programs this year.

Fourth, the Minister and Premier regularly state, as justification for the clawbacks, that authorities are over-funded, that schools are funded well beyond what legislation requires. The law requires 16 kids to one staff, a 16 to 1 PTR, as we say. In reality, the schools which are over-funded are our smallest schools. Out of our 49 NWT schools, we have nine schools which are funded at less than nine students to one staff. A couple of schools are less than 4 to 1 PTR, and we have 19 schools which are funded at less than 13 to 1 PTR. It is the schools in the regional centres and Yellowknife which are close to or at the 16 to 1 PTR. Yet reductions are applied across the board, except for schools of 120 students or less.

If the Minister and Premier intend to fund at 16 to 1 to meet our legislative requirement and if they plan to make the application of that standard fair, our smallest schools and our smallest communities will be devastated, they will be inoperable.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Junior Kindergarten Funding Model
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Stress to small schools is not what I want, and I’m sure it’s not what the Ministers want, but to do otherwise is unfair to the larger education authorities and that unfairness is being categorically ignored. The justification seems to be that the larger authorities can handle it, so let’s take advantage of them. The fairest solution is to provide

new JK funding for the new JK program. That way all schools will be able to keep the staff they currently have and maintain delivery of the excellent programs they provide.

If, as stated yesterday, the regional centres and YK board budgets are reduced next year for a second year in a row with no implementation of phase two of JK, it can only be considered robbery, and for that I say, shame on you, Ministers. Thank you.

Junior Kindergarten Funding Model
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, Mr. Moses.

Victim Services Program
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Throughout the week I’ve made comments and Member’s statements and asked questions regarding such things as the coroner’s report and the Forfeiture Act. Today I’d like to take a moment and talk about the victim services that we currently provide in the Northwest Territories and take another stance on how we provide services and support to people that are victims of crime.

Specifically, for victim service coordinators in the Northwest Territories, the mandate of victim services is to provide information, assistance, referrals and support to victims of crimes or tragedy in the Northwest Territories. Some things our victims might be struggling with are sudden death, suicide, disasters such as house fires, floods, motor vehicle accidents, and most prevalent in the Northwest Territories is violence and assault.

I looked at some statistics from the NWT family violence report card, and from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013, victim services has provided services to many victims in the NWT. For instance, brief service contacts, there was 537 cases; for new clients, 563 new client cases – and this is a big one – for continuing cases in the Northwest Territories in that short amount of time there were 842 cases that were continuing. In that sense, that makes me think that these victims are afraid to stand up or afraid to go before the courts to see through with charges. That is a total of 1,942 cases of family violence in the Northwest Territories.

The victim service coordinators provide a great service to our victims in the Northwest Territories, not only to victims but their families and their relatives. They provide services such as emotional support, dealing with the aftermath of serious crime, even accompanying victims to go talk to the police to make impact statements, visits to the hospital, referrals to appropriate community agencies and services such as counselling, which I must say there’s still waiting times for people to go to counselling.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Victim Services Program
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Like I said, there is a lot of waiting time for counselling, so even if the victim coordinators can get our victims to counselling, they still have to wait to go and see them, and even treatment.

They also provide information on the criminal justice system, the court processes and notifications on the status of their cases. They also help victims fill out court-related documents and, as I said earlier, victim impact statements.

Today I want to recognize all our victim services coordinators in the Northwest Territories and the great work that they do.

I will be asking questions later to the Minister of Justice on how we are continuing to support these victim services and how we can do a better job of helping those that really need the help. Thank you.

Victim Services Program
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.

Supporting A Morel Mushroom Harvest
Members’ Statements

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a message from concerned constituents of mine.

I have been approached to deliver a message on behalf of a group of concerned constituents who live in my riding and some of my colleagues’ ridings too.

Here is what they want to say: We are small but not insignificant. We are not known for our beauty, but we have great taste. We are probably the only constituents in the NWT that are happy we had an epic fire season. We may be just a bunch of fungi living in the forest, but we have a message that is deadly serious. Okay, well, maybe not as deadly as amanita, but you get the point.

Have you figured out who we are yet? We are few, the proud, the Morels! There are some things that you might not know about us. We belong to a genus of edible mushrooms with a distinctive honeycomb-like appearance. We have been called by many different names, depending on where we grow. Some call us dry land fish because, when sliced lengthwise, we’re breaded and fried and we just look like the shape of a fish. In Kentucky, they call us hickory chickens and merkels, meaning miracles, because we once saved a mountain family from starvation.

In West Virginia we are known as molly moochers. Don’t ask us why. That one makes us laugh. We are also known as sponge mushrooms. If you know what we look like, that one makes sense. In fact, the word “morel” itself is derived from the Latin word for maurus, meaning brown.

Okay, now for the serious part. We are prized by gourmet cooks, especially for French cuisine. We are hunted by thousands of people every year for our great taste and the joy of the hunt. We know we have commercial value, and even though we are just a bunch of fungi living in the forest, we like to be good neighbours, so we need your help.

Mr. Nadli tells us that you are the people that make the laws. So get busy, make a law to protect us from the greedy scavengers who travel great distances to find us where we grow. They will come and pick us, and even though we are growing on your land, you will get no benefits from us being here.

Come on, people! You scratch our backs. No way, that won’t work because we don’t have backs. But you know what we mean, just do it. How hard can it be? Pass a law and make sure that we stay strong, growing, and you get some benefit from us growing on your land. Thanks to Mr. Nadli for writing this down. We don’t have hands.

---Laughter

A big mahsi for the morels. Mahsi.