This is page numbers 5179 – 5220 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 services.


The House met at 1:29 p.m.



The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Health and Social Services, Minister Abernethy.

Minister's Statement 117-17(5): Seniors Programs
Ministers’ Statements

Great Slave

Glen Abernethy Minister of Health and Social Services

Mr. Speaker, November 6-12, 2014, is National Seniors’ Safety Week and it is a good opportunity to remember the important role that seniors and elders play in our communities.

Elders are the heart of our communities, providing guidance, care for children and serving as volunteers. But as they age, seniors often require a greater level of support than others.

The government has taken several steps to restructure our system so that it is responsive, comfortable and efficient when it comes to meeting the needs of seniors.

Mr. Speaker we are not alone in trying to find innovative ways to offer programs and services for seniors. Every province and territory is facing a growing seniors population and working to find ways to support seniors so they can remain in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. At a recent Health Ministers meeting, I heard firsthand the challenges my provincial colleagues face in providing care to an aging population. We share those challenges and also face our own unique issues.

Elders who live in small, remote communities do not have access to the same range of services, medical care and social supports that are available in larger centres. Seniors may also experience a variety of limitations that hinder their ability to connect with family and friends and participate within their communities, resulting in social isolation. These limitations may be due to personal circumstances as well as barriers at a systemic level.

We have considerable work to do; however, we have made some great strides for seniors. In November 2013 we completed a continuing care review providing us with key information on our current continuing care services and direction to take in moving forward in a focused and supportive way to reduce barriers and address gaps in care and service delivery. We also released a strategic framework, Our Elders: Our Communities, in May 2014.

Mr. Speaker, Our Elders, Our Communities will help guide our actions as we work together with external partners and other departments to ensure seniors can live safely and independently as active members of our communities. Rather than developing one single action plan, we will develop multiple action plans focusing on different priority areas that support aging in place and long-term care.

The GNWT already has a number of programs that help seniors continue to live independently and participate in their communities while staying in their own homes or rental units, including providing public housing to eligible seniors through the NWT Housing Corporation. Rents for seniors who receive the Canada Pension Plan income in public housing are capped at a maximum of $80 to help to ensure that affordability issues do not limit their ability to continue to live independently. For seniors with additional income, the first $1,000 per month is exempt in calculating rent. There are presently about 650 seniors living in public housing.

Seniors who own their home may take advantage of the Housing Corporation’s CARE program, which provides financial assistance for making necessary repairs and enhancements to homes. The corporation also provides assistance to homeowners to undertake preventative maintenance or emergency repairs. Seniors with disabilities may also receive assistance to make accessibility modifications, like installing grab bars or wheelchair ramps, to support independent living. Through the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, low- to modest-income seniors may apply for a home heating subsidy that helps them with the cost of heating their homes. Education, Culture and Employment also offers the NWT Senior Citizen Supplementary Benefit to low- income seniors to help pay for living costs. The

program provides a monthly payment to seniors and is automatically available to eligible seniors who are receiving Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement or the spouse’s allowance from the federal government.

Seniors who own their homes are also eligible to apply for property tax relief under the Senior Citizens and Disabled Persons Property Tax Relief Act. This program is administered by the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and aims to support seniors who want to remain in their homes as they age. Applications for property tax relief are accepted on an annual basis and can be picked up at community government offices and regional Municipal and Community Affairs offices.

Ensuring that elders in small communities receive all of the support and services to which they are entitled is an important role performed by government services officers. Government services officers in 18 small communities conduct weekly visits to elders and provide support, often in the elder’s Aboriginal language. This can range from opening and reading mail, assisting elders in making applications or renewing eligibility for both territorial and federal programs, to connecting elders with other service providers in their community.

The Department of Health and Social Services is working in partnership with community organizations like the NWT Seniors’ Society to identify other ways to help, like programs to help people shovel walkways or get groceries to help them live in their homes for as long as they can.

In addition to the efforts to strengthen home and community care services, we must review and prepare for the increasing demand for facility-based long-term care, including dementia and extended care, and to improve and enhance supports for respite care, palliative care, geriatric assessment and restorative care.

We’re expanding our complement of long-term care facilities so that this service is available in every region, allowing our seniors and elders to be closer to their families and their homes, which we have heard is what they want.

We are in the process of adding new long-term care beds in the NWT. New facilities in the communities of Behchoko and Norman Wells will provide 27 additional beds within our territorial system to support our aging population.

We established a dedicated Territorial Dementia Facility four years ago to support seniors who have developed dementia and to support their families in dealing with this devastating disease.

We have made other improvements to care delivery and supports for seniors.

We have updated our continuing care standards, to ensure consistent service delivery across supportive living, home care and long-term care programs no matter where you receive services. We are continuing focused work related to our falls prevention program, which includes the development of effective tools to prevent falls in the homes of older adults. We have established focused activities related to home care safety through an integrated approach to case management and coordination of services. We are piloting a Flexible Respite Model which will allow us to gradually expand caregiver support services to communities across the NWT.

I am especially proud of our partnerships with the NWT Parks and Recreation Association and the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs to deliver the Elders in Motion program. This program is a series of fitness training programs to enhance their ability to lead active lifestyles.

We are also partnering with the NWT Housing Corporation to introduce supportive living housing for seniors in small NWT communities. The design of these facilities will allow barrier-free, independent living accommodations with a common space for delivering social programs, meals, Elders in Motion and home care supports. Construction of these new seniors independent living facilities are starting this year in Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Fort Liard. These facilities will contain nine units including the caretaker. Similar facilities will be built in Whati and Fort Good Hope in 2015-16.

We are partnering with Avens through a joint steering committee on their Avens Pavilion expansion plans. This steering committee is working on the documentation required for the government for consideration in the capital planning process.

We will be looking to other jurisdictions for their best practices, in particular how to support and promote aging in place. We continue to participate in federal/provincial/territorial working groups and look forward to the Council of the Federation Chair’s Initiative on Aging to look at the impacts of an aging population on Canada’s social and economic future. We will also look to the dementia research being carried out by the Canadian Institute of Health Research on behalf of federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Health to help guide our own efforts.

We will continue to strengthen our home and community care services and respond to the increasing demand for facility-based long-term care, including dementia and extended care. We need to improve supports for respite, palliative and restorative care as well as geriatric assessment.

Working together with our many partners, we can support our seniors and elders so that they can

continue to make valuable contributions to our communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 117-17(5): Seniors Programs
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 118-17(5): Launching The Introduction Of The New Great Slave Lake Fishery Brand
Ministers’ Statements

Kam Lake

David Ramsay Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment

Mr. Speaker, with viable markets, a healthy stock of freshwater fish, and growing interest, we are working with our partners and the fishers on Great Slave Lake to breathe new life into the Northwest Territories fishing industry. Today I am pleased to share with Members some of the steps we are taking to encourage the resurgence of the NWT fishing industry.

The NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy recommended expanding three essential elements of the NWT fishing industry: the markets,


infrastructure and the workforce. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is now taking steps to implement those recommendations.

First off, we are working to establish a stronger commercial market for our fish here in the NWT.

Growing the demand within our territory will provide new

income streams for the industry, support

import substitution and lessen our dependence on export markets.

We will be launching a campaign within the NWT to build the profile for fish harvested in the territory. This will include the design of a new brand, promotional items, recipe cards, sales information and posters.

ITI is also using its Northern Food Development Program to move fish into communities around Great Slave Lake and into the Beaufort-Delta.

Revitalizing infrastructure is another area for improvement.

We have committed $200,000 this year to develop a building and financing plan in support of a fishery for Great Slave Lake and Kakisa. The intent is to leverage partnerships to design and construct a new export-grade plant for the fishery. We have identified $1.5 million in our 2015-16 Business Plan to help stimulate this development and look forward to working with our partners to move this important project forward.

Mr. Speaker, the third element to strengthening the NWT fishing industry is increasing the workforce.

It takes a great deal of skill to operate successfully within the fishing industry and I commend the Northerners who persevere season after season. In the summer of 2013, there were a total of 34 fishers from the NWT fishing on Great Slave Lake.

We are developing a strategy to attract new fishers from both inside and outside of the NWT. During the summer of 2013, seven individuals from Manitoba and Alberta launched vessels in Great Slave Lake as part of our fishery. Their harvest represented over 30 percent of the entire fishery’s income, totalling $1 million for the summer of 2013.

Through the revitalization of markets and infrastructure, we will grow our local workforce, and by recruiting beyond our borders we will help this industry reach its full potential.

Recent changes in provincial legislation and regulation in Alberta and Saskatchewan may create an added incentive for fishers from these provinces to consider moving their commercial fishing operations to the NWT, where we continue to work hard to grow the fishing industry. As interest and participation in our Great Slave Lake fishery grows, so will the availability of product, employment and local economies.

This government has worked alongside the NWT Fishermen’s Federation and the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation to harvest and market fish from Great Slave Lake and Kakisa. We continue to serve local industry through these partnerships and the experience, knowledge and input they bring to the table.

The objective of the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy is not simply to support small businesses in our territory but also to establish competitive business environments in our regions and communities in which viable economic prospects can be identified, developed and realized.

Mr. Speaker, new markets are emerging for Great Slave Lake fish and, with them, new opportunities for those working in this sector. We are acting to stimulate a new era of self-sufficiency for the NWT’s fishery and return it to the leading economic contributor it once was.

These developments are helping to create a diversified economy that provides all communities in the NWT with opportunities and choices. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 118-17(5): Launching The Introduction Of The New Great Slave Lake Fishery Brand
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Minister of Education, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister's Statement 119-17(5): Celebrating The Signing Of Labour Market Agreements And The 5oth Anniversary Of Apprenticeship In The NWT
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, a skilled workforce is a prerequisite for growing a strong, diversified economy in this territory and our government is doing its part by supporting training and certification programs. This year marks the 50th anniversary of apprenticeship training and certification in the Northwest Territories. Since 1964

more than 2,600 apprentices have been trained and certified as journeypersons in the NWT.

This marks 50 years of success in the NWT and we will be celebrating in every region as part of Skilled Trades and Technology Week from November 3rd to 7th . We will be hosting awards presentations to

recognize excellence achieved by apprentices and recognize employers and journeypersons for their contributions to the success of the Apprenticeship Program.

There is a bright future for skilled tradespeople in the NWT and partners like employers and journeypersons are helping us prepare NWT residents to take advantage of that. In fact, Mr. Speaker, partnerships are key in all the work we do in labour force development. Partnerships with Aboriginal governments, industry, Skills Canada NWT, Aurora College and the Mine Training Society contribute to that strength.

Partnerships with the Government of Canada are also critical and have led to labour market agreements aimed at developing a skilled workforce and providing all Northerners with training and employment opportunities.

This year I have signed three labour market agreements with the federal government: the new Canada-Northwest Territories Job Fund Agreement, renewal of the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers Agreement, and the new Labour Market Agreement for Persons with Disabilities.

These three agreements will provide comprehensive training, education and opportunities for our employers, our older workers, our adult workers and critical under-represented groups in our labour market such as Aboriginal people, youth, women, income assistance recipients, entrants/re-entrants into the labour force, and immigrants.

The economy of the Northwest Territories is growing, and our programs must support that growth. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is taking a systematic look at adult and post-secondary education and skills training in the NWT. We want to improve employment success for NWT residents, close the skill gaps for in-demand jobs and more effectively respond to the requirements of NWT employers and industry.

As well, Mr. Speaker, as we improve the collection and sharing of information from students, we are able to review the skill sets of northern students studying at post-secondary institutions and match them with meaningful and rewarding jobs with our government.

Mr. Speaker, these investments and initiatives will complement our work with our partners to build on existing programs and services to ensure that NWT residents have the skills, knowledge and opportunities to participate fully in the vibrant,

sustainable northern economy the Government of the Northwest Territories is working to create. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 119-17(5): Celebrating The Signing Of Labour Market Agreements And The 5oth Anniversary Of Apprenticeship In The NWT
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The honourable Minister for Public Works and Services, Mr. Beaulieu.

Minister's Statement 120-17(5): Procurement Shared Services
Ministers’ Statements

Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Public Works and Services

Mr. Speaker, improving procurement services is helping the Government of the Northwest Territories achieve this Assembly’s goal of more effective and efficient government. By strengthening our procurement practices, we are making sure that local businesses can benefit from government contracting opportunities and that our high standards of fiscal responsibility are maintained.

On April 1st the Procurement Shared Services

Centre in the Department of Public Works and Services began operating government-wide in order to better support these goals.

Government-wide operations followed the successful launch of the centre in Yellowknife in June 2013. The centre brought together a team of professionals who were previously located in individual departments. This has made it possible for the GNWT to maximize and build upon the skills of its employees while also providing a more efficient, consistent and transparent procurement experience for the business community. The centre is positioned to focus on procuring goods and services at reasonable prices while considering key environmental and social benefits such as worker health and safety, energy efficiency, minimal packaging, or other sustainability aspects over the entire lifecycle of the product or service.

An important part of this initiative is bringing procurement support to the regions in order to better meet the needs of our departments and the local business community throughout the territory. As of April 1st , the Procurement Shared Services

Centre has consolidated tender desks operating in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River and Inuvik that are responsible for the distribution and receipt of all government tenders, including construction.

In addition to consolidated tender desks, new fully dedicated procurement positions have been established in these communities as well. These regional positions have created employment and training opportunities for new and current regional employees. With the support of the entire Procurement Shared Services Centre team, these employees are handling all procurements of goods and services estimated to exceed $5,000 in value on behalf of our GNWT departments and the NWT Housing Corporation, excluding contracts for construction.

To give Members an idea of the volume of work being undertaken by the Procurement Shared Services Centre, over 900 procurement service requests have been received with 710 contracts awarded for a total value of $79.2 million along with 289 tender and RFP documents being handled by the consolidated tender desks on behalf of our clients.

Mr. Speaker, GNWT staff in other departments also benefit by being freed up to focus on program delivery, while our dedicated procurement offices offer a consistent single-window location for the business community to access tender and contracting opportunities with our government.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to waive Rule 34(6) so that all Ministers’ statements filed with the Clerk can be delivered today.

---Unanimous consent granted

Minister's Statement 120-17(5): Procurement Shared Services
Ministers’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

An important focus of this initiative is to improve our procurement management by providing professional support to our departments and professional services to the public. Training, development and the implementation of best practices will continue to be important as we realize the full benefits of this initiative.

The centre has already provided training to more than 630 government employees, has established a quality assurance function and has gone through Fairness Commissioner training. The centre also focuses on providing training and workshop opportunities to the business community.

Workshops have been delivered in the communities of Inuvik, Hay River and Yellowknife on “How to do Business with the GNWT” with 46 representatives from local businesses having attended. The centre also sponsored a very successful proposal writing workshop in collaboration with the Supply Chain Management Association of the Northwest Territories and continues to work with the association as well as local chambers of commerce, to explore ways to further improve how the business community can access government contracting opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, procurement shared services is another step in making our government more effective and efficient while decentralizing government positions and ensuring socially responsible economic development, all priorities of the 17th Legislative Assembly. Thank you, Mr.


Minister's Statement 120-17(5): Procurement Shared Services
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Celebrating Northern Medical Professionals
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I noticed an interesting little thing on Facebook last night and it’s called Top 10 Doctors in the Northwest Territories, Canada. It’s based on a website called I’m glad they don’t have a website called Nevertheless, I don’t really like to compare people and say this person is number one, but it was an interesting read to see that people took the time to post comments about these Northwest Territories doctors on a website, and to read the comments, it’s just glowing about the experience people have had when they have had to be attended to by these physicians.

In looking at the list, it says the number one top doctor in the Northwest Territories is Dr. Bing Guthrie. I take some pride in that.


Dr. Guthrie’s first place where he practiced medicine in the Northwest Territories was in Hay River. He was our chief of medical staff there, and during that time he decided to become a specialist. Under a GNWT program, he was sponsored to go to Edmonton, go into residency and become an obstetrician and gynecologist, and then as part of that return of service, ended up back in Yellowknife but continued to come to Hay River and still does come to Hay River. An interesting thing that you may not know about Dr. Guthrie is that not only does he receive this high honour here in the Northwest Territories but he also finds time to serve in his medical field in Third World countries and has made trips abroad to help people in other countries, which I think is remarkable.

Another thing people may not know is that Dr. Guthrie’s wife, Margaret, is a registered nurse and staying home to raise their children. When they were in Edmonton and here in the Northwest Territories, they took in medical foster children. So babies that were born in the hospital that could not go home because they were so ill and were probably not even going to survive, the Guthrie’s took them into their home. So not only would he work all day in the medical field, then he would go home and he would have little ones in his house that had severe challenges and medical conditions.

One other doctor on this list is Dr. Hassan Adam.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Celebrating Northern Medical Professionals
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

An interesting thing is when a dentist makes it onto the top 10 doctors list. As I was sitting in the dental chair this morning at

7:00 a.m. in Dr. Adam’s office with Dr. Adam, everything that they say about Dr. Adam on here is true. I mean, top 10 in the Northwest Territories. I think if anybody with knowledge were to examine his credentials, he’s probably in the top 10 in Canada if not North America.

These are amazing medical professionals that we have here in the Northwest Territories. So for no other reason than just to say thank you, not just to the people on this list but to all of the medical professionals who serve the Northwest Territories, I would just like to say thank you very much.

Celebrating Northern Medical Professionals
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.