This is page numbers 3523 – 3556 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 going.

Topics

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

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The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 12-17(5): Anti-Poverty Roundtable And Next Steps
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Great Slave

Glen Abernethy Minister of Health and Social Services

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our government is committed to this Assembly’s goal of helping our residents become healthy, educated people free from poverty. A strong territory needs a strong society, and all residents of the NWT should have the chance to enjoy the benefits of living in a prosperous, well-governed territory and to participate fully in a healthy, just society.

Last June I was pleased to table the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework: Building on the Strengths of Northerners. This important document represents input from key stakeholders and was an important first step.

Later today I will table in the House the GNWT’s initial response to the framework. Our government’s Anti-Poverty Action Plan outlines the commitments we will make, starting immediately, to improve our response to poverty in the NWT. Our action plan includes investments of $2.6 million. This new funding will support day shelter programs in Yellowknife and Inuvik, and to build new housing units in four small communities for residents who may need additional support. It will see $1 million in new spending every year to provide nutritious food directly to children and youth through established programs.

This demonstrates our government’s commitment to taking leadership in the reduction of poverty in our territory and will form a part of the territorial action plan which will include actions by all sectors and all regions of the NWT. But that is only a start.

We have always recognized that this government can’t tackle this issue alone. We need to partner

with communities, Aboriginal governments, non-government organizations and business.

Mr. Speaker, on November 28 and 29, 2013, an NWT Anti-Poverty Roundtable was held in Detah to begin the work of developing a territorial action plan. Many delegates in attendance left with concrete plans for action and a commitment to stat on them as soon as they returned to their community. Everyone in attendance at the roundtable agreed that it is time to move from talk to action, and that is what we are doing. The budget includes $500,000 in new funding to support communities, Aboriginal governments and non-government organizations to get moving on community-based projects.

An Anti-Poverty Charter was presented to the delegates at the roundtable. This charter symbolizes our commitment as stakeholders to work together, at all levels, towards the development of a territorial action plan.

Twenty-four delegates signed on to the charter. Other organizations have subsequently signed on and we will continue to invite partners to join us.

Mr. Speaker, through the anti-poverty initiative funding proposed in the budget, we are also establishing an Anti-Poverty Action Plan Advisory Committee, including representatives from regions across the Northwest Territories, to lead the development of the territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan over the next year. This work will be undertaken in collaboration with stakeholders.

This committee will work within their regions to raise awareness and build capacity and will provide recommendations to the Minister.

As with any major initiative, it is important to have a way of measuring progress. Funding in the budget will enable the Department of Health and Social Services to lead the development of a Performance Management Framework that will allow all partners to report consistently on our activities and track our overall progress.

Mr. Speaker, I am confident that, working together, these initiatives will continue to move us closer to our goal of eliminating poverty in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 12-17(5): Anti-Poverty Roundtable And Next Steps
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The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 13-17(5): Successful Trade Mission To China
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Kam Lake

David Ramsay Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last month I accompanied Premier Bob McLeod and Mr. Robert Hawkins, Member for Yellowknife Centre, along with delegates from our territory’s business community on a trade mission to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The business representatives from the Northwest Territories were Mr. Robin Goad, president of Fortune Minerals; Ms. Verda Law, Yellowknife Tours; Mr. Deepak Kumar, Deepak International; Mr. Fernando Alvarez, president of Jacques Cartier Clothier; and Mr. Mark Downey, CEO of Fur Harvesters Auction Ltd.

Our visit was an important part of the GNWT’s work to develop closer ties with China and the immense market potential it holds, particularly for our territory’s fur, tourism and diamond sectors.

Building relationships with Chinese business and tourism leaders, expanding markets for our products and encouraging investment all strengthen and diversify our economy, a priority of the 17th Legislative Assembly.

This trip provided us an opportunity to follow up with contacts we made during the Council of the Federation trade mission in 2012, where we had productive meetings with the Chinese Vice-Premier, Minister of Finance and leaders in the business community regarding trade and investment opportunities.

The 40th Annual Beijing Fur and Leather Show was

a main focus of our mission. China is the world’s leading manufacturer of fur garments, and their demand for NWT wild fur is high and continues to rise every year. Currently, 80 percent of all NWT wild fur ends up in China; a significant number. Our genuine Mackenzie Valley fur is recognized as a premium product that Chinese designers want to work with, and perhaps more importantly, it is a product that the growing Chinese middle class loves to wear.

Our meetings in Hong Kong helped us to understand this city’s relationship with mainland China. Hong Kong is the gateway to China and an international financial hub. Our fur and tourism sectors have enormous growth potential in this market.

Mr. Speaker, our promotion of the NWT as an exciting location for Chinese tourists was also well received. I am happy to confirm to Members that representatives of the Chinese travel industry are especially interested in aurora tourism. We have seen an increase in Chinese travelers this year,

and by following up with the connections we made, we hope to consistently grow this number.

In addition to promoting NWT Tourism’s new Aurora Capital of the World brand, our meetings and presentations offered numerous opportunities to showcase the wonders and natural beauty of our territory’s regions.

Chinese visitors are interested in authentic cultural experiences, and we took this opportunity to highlight our emerging Aboriginal tourism sector.

During the delegation’s time in Shanghai and Hong Kong, we focused our efforts on tourism and diamonds. I toured the Shanghai Diamond Exchange and promoted the NWT’s diamond sector from both a mining and secondary manufacturing perspective.

Mr. Speaker, China offers the potential to be more than just a source of consumers for our economy. The Chinese manufacturing sector has grown considerably in the past decade, and there is great interest in our territory’s wealth of raw resources and the potential for future trade.

The Premier and I met with investors familiar with the Canadian investment environment, who were excited to learn of opportunities in the Northwest Territories. We highlighted our rich mining history and the need for capital investment in new mines, infrastructure development and our untapped oil and gas sector.

The collective purpose of our government’s trade mission in January was to strengthen trade ties with China and build and establish relationships with Chinese government, businesses and organizations.

With over 25 meetings in three major centres, I can assure Members of this Assembly that we surpassed this goal.

Mr. Speaker, we must act on the momentum from this trip and build on the opportunities that will grow and diversify our economy. I look forward to highlighting for Members of this Assembly the real and tangible outcomes of our work in China as they come to fruition. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 13-17(5): Successful Trade Mission To China
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The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Colleagues, before we go on today, I would like to welcome back into the House former Member for Nunakput, Mr. Ernie Bernhardt.

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The honourable Minister of Human Resources, Mr. Beaulieu.

Minister's Statement 14-17(5): Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2014
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Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Human Resources

I am very pleased to announce that for the second year in a row the Government of the Northwest Territories has been

chosen as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. This award is presented by Canada’s Top Employers at Mediacorp Canada Inc., which manages the competition in partnership with the Globe and Mail and recognizes employers across Canada with exceptional workplace diversity and inclusiveness practices.

Mr. Speaker, diversity is a core value of the NWT public service. It enables us to create a workplace that represents the population we serve, that is open to contributions from all, and where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their full potential. As a central goal of the NWT Public Service Strategic Plan, 20/20: A Brilliant North, the GNWT has undertaken many initiatives to develop and encourage a diverse, inclusive workforce.

We have recognized the importance of establishing a culture of understanding and cooperation among our employees through training and communications. I am particularly pleased with the Aboriginal Cultural Awareness Training program which was launched last June. Available to all employees as well as the public, this training enhances employee understanding of Aboriginal culture and reaffirms the fundamental importance the GNWT places on including Aboriginal values in program design and delivery.

As well last year, we continued our very successful disabilities awareness campaign that highlighted knowledge and acceptance of physical, social and invisible disabilities in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, diversity and inclusion characterize all of our recruitment and human resource management practices. We work closely with the Aboriginal Employees Advisory Committee and the GNWT’s Advisory Committee on Employability – known as GACE – which advise our human resource practitioners on ways to improve the recruitment, retention and advancement of Aboriginal employees and persons with disabilities. The Department of Human Resources has committed positions to assist employees and supervisors with inclusion and workplace accommodation, such as the diversity officer and duty to accommodate advisor positions.

We have also implemented a number of initiatives targeted directly at increasing the representation of Aboriginal persons at all levels of the public service. The Aboriginal Management Development Program is intended to enhance and facilitate workforce planning for senior management and management positions by developing qualified Aboriginal persons to fill management roles. Formerly called the Associate Director/Superintendent Program, it has recently been expanded to support up to eight participants at one time and been broadened beyond its original focus on senior management positions to now include manager-level positions.

Mr. Speaker, I am also anticipating the results of the Aboriginal Inclusion Survey concluded in December. This survey, conducted in partnership with the Aboriginal Human Resource Council, will assist us by identifying strengths, weaknesses and trends in the way we engage as an employer with Aboriginal people in the NWT. The department is expecting a detailed report of the results in March, and I look forward to sharing the results when they are ready.

Mr. Speaker, thousands of employers from across Canada, both large and small, are considered each year to be recognized as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. That the GNWT has been chosen for a second time reflects our position as an industry leader and role model for the advancement of diversity in the workplace and the value we have given to a public service that encourages participation by all. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 14-17(5): Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2014
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The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Tribute To Winter Olympian Michael Gilday
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today is Gilday Day, as declared by the mayor of Yellowknife, and I am pleased to see Members wearing red to honour Michael.

Today at 4:00 a.m., I joined a gathering of Northerners who overnighted at the Yellowknife Fieldhouse to cheer on Michael Gilday in his Olympic debut. Every athlete at these Olympic Games is a champion and Michael is no exception. His years of dedication, hard work and perseverance is reflected in his ability to compete with the best in the world.

Michael’s individual achievements are impressive and we are proud of them. While speed skating may appear to be a competition between individuals, Michael’s success shows that speed skating is, in fact, a team sport.

At 140 skaters, the Yellowknife Speed Skating Club is the largest in Canada. For 35 years athletes have figured prominently in the Arctic Winter Games, Western Canada Games, Canadian and world championships. Clearly, there are some very special, dedicated people supporting our speed skaters. From parents to coaches, volunteers, communities and sponsors, right down to the Zamboni operators, all are part of this Olympic achievement.

Locally, I would like to mention Shane Clark, head coach; and Karin Clark, president of the Yellowknife Speed Skating Club; Pam Dunbar, Michael’s

mother, president of the NWT Speed Skating Association and David Gilday, his dad, a long-time coach and a huge force in the NWT speed skating world.

Benefits ripple through our society. A Michael Gilday T-shirt signed by the Canadian Men’s Speed Skating Team auctioned Saturday night raised $2,900 for the Yellowknife Community Foundation. The community all-nighter at the Fieldhouse was festooned with red T-shirts designed by Sarah Erasmus of Erasmus Apparel. The sale of over 300 “I’m on Michael’s Team” T-shirts enabled the donation of $3,000 in profits to Kid Sport NWT. I’m proud to say that all these officials and Sarah are Weledeh constituents.

We are proud of Michael Gilday and fellow Olympian Northerners Brendan Green and Jesse Cockney competing in Sochi this week. Please join me in celebrating their accomplishments and honouring the NWT-wide families and volunteers who help our athletes on their path to success. Mahsi.

Tribute To Winter Olympian Michael Gilday
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Access To Palliative Care Services In The Sahtu Region
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My Member’s statement is on the ongoing requests of the people, especially the family members of the elders. They have been asking for a palliative care service in Deline.

There are 54 elders 60 years and over in Deline. People have asked since last year when the letter was written to the previous Minister, Tom Beaulieu, when he visited the community. Upon his visit there, people wrote a letter and asked if there could be a possibility of putting two palliative care beds in the existing community wellness building.

People have noticed that since 1994, when the facility was shut down for reasons only the government has known, there were people trained there, and people want to see their elders be brought back to their community, especially in their last dying days. The community has seen a lot of their elders pass away outside in the other facilities, which makes it very hard for family members to come to Yellowknife or Inuvik to get the last words from the elders. When elders are called, some family members can’t make it because of the high cost of an airline ticket, when they don’t see their elders before they pass away. Elders in our culture always want to provide words of wisdom. It’s a special time to give messages to the young people, especially to their family members.

So, they have been asking for a long, long time for palliative care beds in Deline, and I want to ask the

Minister, what plans, what stage and where are we at with the budget that we have in front of us – we have another capital planning budget ahead of us – if there’s a possibility of granting the wish of the elders in Deline. For the leadership and for the people, I think they’re excited and they want to see this continue and not just fall off the books in regards to their request. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Access To Palliative Care Services In The Sahtu Region
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Organizational Changes To Dehcho Health And Social Services Authority
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I’m glad that the Minister of Health and Social Services travelled to Fort Simpson and we hosted a public meeting on the future of the Dehcho Health and Social Services Authority. I’m also pleased to see that the public administrator, Mr. Jim Antoine, of the Dehcho Health and Social Services, is making efforts to go to the communities to explain where the health board is going.

As they heard, I’m sure, community and residents are still very concerned about potential changes to the structure of the Dehcho Health and Social Services. The Minister and the Department of Health and Social Services are contemplating administrative changes since the health board was not appointed in March of last year. Communities and regions want more autonomy, not less. With the new potential streamlining of our boards, I remain cautiously optimistic, as I do not want my constituency to lose jobs.

I do support sharing of health professionals and leveraging of bulk purchases by all health authorities. I’m also pleased that they heard it is important that we need to restore community involvement in policy and delivery of health in our small, remote communities through some type of regional council.

Residents are also very concerned about medical travel and the apparent wastage. They’re pleased to see that there’s a plan to review it. When you do, I suggest you allow as much public input as you can. Our residents are the ones that are most impacted by medical travel and will have the best suggestions. For instance, in small communities medical escorts are often the same person and unemployed and have the time to travel, but they do not receive any stipend at all and find themselves in Yellowknife or Edmonton with little or no money for long periods of time.

Getting back the future of the Dehcho Health and Social Services, the Department of Health and Social Services cannot take all the responsibility away from my communities.

Later today I will be asking the Minister of Health questions on this initiative. Mahsi.

Organizational Changes To Dehcho Health And Social Services Authority
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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