This is page numbers 3501 – 3522 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 budget.

The House met at 10:03 a.m.


The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Jane Groenewegen

Good morning, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Minister Lafferty.

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, the first five years of a child’s life are critical to creating a foundation for their healthy physical, emotional, social and cognitive development. Supporting child care programs is one of the priorities of this Legislative Assembly. The departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Health and Social Services worked in partnership and developed the Early Childhood Development Action Plan. It will provide accessible quality early childhood and parental programs and services for all Northwest Territories families.

We will implement about half of the actions in close collaboration with our partners in Health and Social Services. The others are within our own department’s mandate and I would like to focus on some of those today.

Madam Speaker, the phased introduction of junior kindergarten in all of our schools marks a significant milestone in creating access to free, quality early childhood education for four-year-old children. It will provide young children with a hands-on, play-based program to support their development and learning.

The department will introduce this optional, full-day Junior Kindergarten Program in September 2014. This program is of no cost to parents, will be offered in our schools as part of the K to 12 education system, and will roll out over three years. The first wave will be where the need is greatest: in the NWT’s 29 small communities.

We are revamping our Aboriginal Language Nests program to make sure it aligns with the needs of our communities. These programs are delivered through our licensed daycare centres and expose children to an Aboriginal language at an early age. Research shows that the best way for a young child to learn any language is to be in a rich language environment. It is therefore essential that all licensed early childhood programs reflect the language and cultural backgrounds of the children they serve.

Just like junior kindergarten, licensed daycare centres are important delivery agents of quality early childhood programs and services. Our job as government is to make sure they have the support and resources they need to deliver high-quality programs in safe environments. That is why we have implemented the NWT Child Daycare Standards Regulations to set consistent standards across the territory for all licensed daycares. We will also be working with our licensed early childhood programs to eliminate red tape, so they can focus on programming and development, rather than paperwork.

One of the most critical success factors of any daycare is having qualified people in whose care we entrust our children. To acknowledge that very fact, we plan to introduce a wage subsidy for early childcare practitioners in our licensed daycares to address the issue of comparatively low wages of that critical profession. As of April 1st , we intend to

institute a tiered wage top-up plan for all current practitioners. We are also putting in place a credentialing system, scholarships and incentives for early childhood development professional training and certifications.

Madam Speaker, all of our early childhood investments are linked and we are building to a critical mass. This is work no one can do alone and with our partners, we are confident that we have the building blocks in place to provide a foundation for accessible high quality programs and services for healthy, successful children. Mahsi, Madam Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The honourable Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Abernethy.

Glen Abernethy

Glen Abernethy Minister of Health and Social Services

Thank you, Madam Speaker. This Assembly’s vision of healthy, educated people contributing to a strong and prosperous northern society starts in early childhood. The departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Health and Social Services have worked collaboratively to craft a renewed Early Childhood Development Action Plan based on best practices, national and international research and the wisdom of our elders.

This action plan is the companion document to the Early Childhood Development Framework tabled in May 2013 and we will be tabling it later today.

The framework identified the need to emphasize the whole family, improve and expand existing services, and improve communication and awareness of available services. It also identified the need for qualified and dedicated staff, culturally appropriate services and, in some cases, increased funding. The framework built on existing successful programs, including the Healthy Family Program.

Madam Speaker, based on the seven commitments made in the framework, our departments have identified 22 areas for action that will show results over time. A major focus of the action plan is healthy development in the zero to three age group. It identifies how we will implement new programs, or strengthen existing programs, to support this age group right from prenatal and healthy infancy through to early intervention programs.

The action plan calls for the establishment of regional early intervention workers, who will work with families at risk to support and promote healthy child development.

Another priority will be educating parents on the importance of early childhood development.

However, we also realize that those in greatest need are often the ones who do not take advantage of facility-based programs, whether they are offered in a health centre, a child and family resource centre, or a daycare program. If we are going to truly make a difference, we need to improve our ability to reach the parents and caregivers who are at risk, including pregnant moms, and parents and caregivers suffering from addictions issues.

We need to change the way we do business so that we can improve our ability to reach those families. We will refocus our communications and social marketing campaigns to connect with those families in ways that address their needs and concerns.

We will work through our regional wellness staff and in partnership with other regional and community stakeholders, to build on existing community wellness plans and promote local

initiatives that engage families at risk. This can only be done through a collaborative interagency approach.

We will also review job descriptions of key community staff, including community health representatives, to build in a greater emphasis on community work in this area.

We must gradually develop new programs and services based on evidence. We will pay close attention to the results of the one-time baseline assessment of children born in 2009 and identify areas where more formal programming may be required to address gaps.

Healthy, educated people enjoying the benefits of a thriving economy are essential to the future of the Northwest Territories. Investing in our young children is one of our most valuable investments. It is through early intervention, development and education that our children will grow into healthy, productive adults. We must provide them with a strong foundation on which to learn and grow, and support our families, caregivers, professionals and communities with the information, resources and services needed to provide that foundation.

Our action plan is one of several strategies this government is working on to support our people and develop our economy, including the Anti-Poverty Strategy, Mental Health and Addictions Report and Education Renewal Initiative. We look forward to keeping the House informed on implementation and results of the Early Childhood Development Action Plan. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. The honourable Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. McLeod.

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs

Madam Speaker, it is with great pride that I stand to address Members today on the incredible achievements of three northern Olympians.

I am, of course, referring to biathlete Brendan Green of Hay River, speed skater Michael Gilday of Yellowknife and cross-country skier Jesse Cockney, who was born in Yellowknife and now lives in Canmore, Alberta.


Brendan made us all proud when he made his Olympic debut at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics as a member of Canada’s 4 x 7.5 km relay team. That team matched Canada’s best performance ever at a Winter Olympic Games.

Brendan’s perseverance through a significant injury and back surgery in 2012 has inspired us all. He made an incredible comeback by qualifying for the

Sochi 2014 Olympic team only four months after his full-time return to competition in August of last year.

Michael Gilday is competing in his sixth international season as a speed skater for Team Canada. His career has included a string of medals and world records and a fifth place finish at the Team Canada trials for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Michael’s career has also been challenged by injuries, including a 2012 shoulder injury and a 2013 concussion in the lead up to Team Canada selection trials. His determination and work ethic have motivated many a young athlete across the NWT.

Jesse Cockney has lived in Canmore, Alberta, for most of his life. He was, however, born in Yellowknife and is of Inuvialuit heritage. I would like to recognize him for his Olympic achievements as well.

Jesse will be a part of Team Canada at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. This is his third year on the senior national cross-country skiing team and we are extremely proud of his accomplishments.

Madam Speaker, these role models and others have inspired countless numbers of young northern athletes to go out and do their best. They join Denise Ramsden, who competed in the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games; Sharon and Shirley Firth, who competed in four Olympic Games; and others like Roseanne and Roger Allen,

Dale Anderson, Bert Bullock, Fred Kelly, Ernie Lennie, Karen Legresley, Bert Squires, Joan Groothuysen and Jarl Omolt-Jensen.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is proud to support them along the way. In total, just over $1 million has been provided to these athletes and others through the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs’ High Performance Athlete Grant Program since its inception in 2003.

The goal of this program is twofold. First, it is important to support our sport heroes so they have the resources to reach the competitions where we will all cheer them along to what we hope will be podium finishes.

Secondly, and more importantly, the program inspires thousands of other youth through role model programs, speaking tours and other events where our high performance athletes have an opportunity to give back.

Madam Speaker, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games begin on February 7th . On behalf of the

Government of the Northwest Territories and all Members of the Legislative Assembly, we wish Brendan Green, Michael Gilday, Jesse Cockney and all of Team Canada the very best in their competitions. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Kevin A. Menicoche

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I rise today to say goodbye to Billy “Boy” Cholo of Fort Simpson. In December 2013 Billy Cholo, sadly and tragically, passed away in Fort Simpson.

Billy wasn’t famous, important or rich, but he was just as big a part of our lives and our communities. The important thing I want to say, on behalf of his family and our community, is that he will be deeply missed.

Billy “Boy” Cholo will always be remembered for his sense of humour and being a jokester. Just as important is that he came from the land and thoroughly enjoyed our Aboriginal culture of hunting and trapping.

During his eulogy, people quoted some of his favourite jokes. My personal favourite is “Mary had a little lamb. Boy, the doctor was surprised.”


Many years ago I realized his contributions to us. He loved to make people laugh. We always get busy with our lives, lots of pressures, family, finances, health. He would come up to you and make you laugh, thus giving you a brief reprieve from your troubles. He himself never complained of hardships or troubles, he just enjoyed life.

The family also asked me to thank everybody who helped in the search: the RCMP, LKFN chief and staff, and the Village of Fort Simpson. “It just shows what the community can do,” said Edward “Cheeky” Cholo, his uncle.

There was a huge turnout for his funeral. People from far and wide came to pay their last respects. This was one of the biggest funerals I have attended, about 300 in all.

In a final joking comment, his uncle Edward said, “Billy would have liked this. Almost as much people attended, just like Mandella.”

Goodbye, Billy Cholo. Thank you for making us laugh. Thank you for making us smile on a daily basis. You will be sadly missed. Mahsi cho.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

Yukon Sports School
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. The Northwest Territories is proudly represented by three of its finest athletes at the 2014 Winter

Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Please join me once again in recognizing the achievements of Yellowknife speed skater Michael Gilday, cross-country skier Jesse Cockney and Hay River biathlete Brendan Green.

Not far behind them are the young athletes counting down the days to the Arctic Winter Games in Fairbanks, Alaska. Each one of these Olympians got their start at the Arctic Winter Games and, more importantly, at NWT schools.

This past year the Yukon government implemented a sports school program at the Whitehorse high school. Based on BC’s Canadian sport school program, students at F.H. Collins Secondary School spend half a day focusing on sport training and the other half on academics. The curriculum is further supplemented with guest speakers on a variety of health and fitness topics. The program also recognizes that unique training and competition demands of elite young athletes need special accommodation so that their academic and athletic success remains compatible.

Healthy people are active people. As we face the ongoing challenge of stimulating the development of healthy, educated people, I strongly encourage the Government of the Northwest Territories to consider a similar sport school initiative. Our government funds after school physical activities, multisport games, awards high performance athletic grants and contributes generously to the Pan-Territorial Sport Strategy and sport and recreation organizations, but will NWT own the podium?

Most other provinces dedicate significant resources to programming for high performance sport, and we should be on board with the sport school concept.

Olympic athletes are developed out of broad-based support at the community level. Not all our youth will become Olympians and that is not the goal of the Yukon sport school. But Team Canada in Sochi and Team NWT heading for Alaska next month show that we have a lot of homegrown talent and bright up-and-comers whose efforts we should nurture.

Sports are an excellent incentive to stay in school, develop self-discipline and make lasting positive lifestyle choices. Whatever the outcome, the strength, courage and determination that young people apply in training to win are tools for success in all aspects of life.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Yukon Sports School
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

A sports school shouldn’t be confined to one institution. Using existing resources, the program could easily be adapted to other schools in a number of our NWT communities.

Let’s own the podium and give our youth the best chance to win. Thank you very much.

Yukon Sports School
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. Member for Hay River North, Mr. Bouchard.

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Madam Speaker. It’s definitely a Green Day. Thanks to all the Members for wearing green today. This morning I’d asked Members of this House and residents of the Northwest Territories to join me in an Olympic send-off to Hay River biathlete Brendan Green.

Brendan is in Sochi, representing Canada in his second Winter Olympic Games. Born and raised in Hay River, Brendan started skiing at the age of three and became a biathlete at six. He long dreamed of becoming an Olympian at a young age and set out to achieve this goal. He competed at the Hay River track meet on a regular basis and used the great Nordic facilities to begin his journey to the Olympics.

He excelled at international championships in 2005 and 2007, and in 2010 he took his place at the start line in the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. His relay team matched Canada’s best ever results.

A series of back injuries jeopardized Brendan’s chances of competing at this year’s Winter Olympics. He underwent two surgeries and has since made a remarkable recovery. This past fall Brendan had reached most of the things that he needed to get to compete at the Olympics. He won a spot on Canada’s World Cup team and took a silver medal at the prestigious International Biathlon Union Race in Norway early this season.

Brendan trains full time at his base in Canmore, but is quick to remember his northern roots. His sponsors include Kingland Ford and the NWT Power Corporation.

Hay River is going all out to celebrate Brendan’s success and cheer him on at this year’s Winter Olympics. To mark the opening ceremonies today, the community was invited to join students of all the Hay River schools at a Brendan Green Day Rally starting at 3:00 p.m. at the new fire hall. Everyone will be wearing green and ready for an Olympic send-off. This event will be recorded and sent to Brendan and his teammates in Sochi.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

The Ptarmigan Inn will be hosting a pancake breakfast tomorrow morning along with a live broadcast of Brendan’s first race. In an Olympic bid presentation to the Town of Hay River, Wally Schumann of Poison Painting has

created a giant Olympic banner celebrating Northwest Territories Olympians past and present. Thanks, Wally. The banner will be proudly displayed on the tower of the new fire hall. The inuksuk front the town hall will be decked out in skis and in a Canada hat.

Watch Brendan race hard and shoot clean over the next few weeks during live broadcasts in the morning on CBC. On February 22nd everyone is

invited to gather at the Don Stewart Arena in Hay River to watch Brendan and his teammates compete in the men’s 10 k relay event. This will be an excellent moment in NWT Olympic history.

Please join me in cheering Brendan Green and Team Canada as we watch their Olympic dreams unfold. Go, Brendan, go! Thank you.


The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. The Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Madam Speaker. The community of Enterprise needs to be better prepared for medical emergencies. Right now emergency ambulance services are based in Hay River and it costs at least $400 to take someone to hospital, if the ambulance gets there on time.

Like most communities in the NWT, Enterprise has an aging population. It’s location on Highway No. 3 near the Alberta border means there is greater risk of medical emergencies. If an accident occurs on the highway north of High Level, essentially the closest community would be Enterprise. As the larger community, Hay River is well equipped to respond, but it is possible that Hay River emergency personnel and vehicles might be busy responding to a call when someone in Enterprise needs help.

Public safety is a high priority for municipalities and for this government. Each community is responsible for developing emergency plans as the Government of the NWT plans to expand services and resources for ground ambulance and highway rescue. Enterprise cannot be overlooked. The government needs to work with the community to determine the level of need and plan the best response.

A proactive approach to emergency services will help us avoid tragedies and the regrets and finger pointing that is too often part of the aftermath. As a responsible government, we must do all we can to promote public safety, from accident prevention to effective response.

I urge the government to work with Enterprise toward a reliable solution for emergency medical needs. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. The Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

Early Childhood Development
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Madam Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to speak to the issue today, and I want to thank the Minister for acknowledging how important the role of education is to our young people, but some of the stuff I heard today did cause great concern. I know not one person who doesn’t believe in the first line of principles talked about, whereas the community is very concerned and certainly supports the physical health, emotional health, social and cognitive development of children. I think, as well, equally strong, that the Early Childhood Development Action Plan is a great concept, but like all great concepts, there’s always the old unfortunate “but.”

Minister Jackson Lafferty did say, well, by the way, it’s all free. As well as he went on to say that there will be wage subsidies, they will be helping current practitioners process their paperwork, credentials, scholarships and incentives. The question really comes down to how are we going to pay. Somebody has to be asking these questions.

I almost think it’s irresponsible to be launching such a great initiative without somebody asking the barebones question. All of this stuff for free comes at a cost. I know yesterday we had heard the chair of the YK No. 1 school board concerned over are the costs going to come down to the school boards.

If I may describe it as children and young people receive 13 years of school. That is kindergarten with the additional grades 1 to 12. Are the school boards now going to be forced to provide a 14th year, one additional year without appropriate funding or, of course, will they just shuffle around the PTR ratio? That’s the pupil-teacher ratio, for those who are not familiar with that.

This is a great initiative and I do not know anyone who would balk against it. The issue is how we are going to pay for it. Although it may be welcome news that it will be free, but nothing is free. As Members sit over here and wonder what is going to happen, again, I cite that it is irresponsible to launch such a major initiative without the facts of how we’re going to pay for it. We’re all too familiar with the old saying sometimes you have to steal from Peter to pay Paul. I can tell you, the school boards right now are dreading the next phone call from the Minister wondering if they will be Peter. Thank you.

Early Childhood Development
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I have to start off by saying go, Brendan, go!

I would like to congratulate the Finance Minister on the 2014-15 budget he presented yesterday. It’s the culmination of many, many man and woman hours of work across the government, and I look forward to debating the budget in the coming weeks. But there were disappointments in the budget, most notably the lack of any significant new revenues again, and that only 5 percent of our brand new resource revenues will go to the Heritage Fund. It’s not like the Finance Minister and his Cabinet colleagues were never advised that 5 percent was not enough.

Last June this House passed a motion that recommended 25 percent of resource revenues go to the Heritage Fund. On October 28th of last year, I used a Member’s statement to tell the Minister and the public that a minimum of 25 percent of resource revenues should go to the Heritage Fund. Last fall the Minister consulted with residents in 10 or more communities. There are different views of the conclusions of the report from that consultation, but I believe residents indicated that 5 percent to the Heritage Fund was not nearly enough.

The Minister has heard from other MLAs and via committee correspondence that 25 percent to the Heritage Fund is a more realistic and preferred option. In response to oral questions yesterday, Minister Miltenberger said several times, choices had to be made, and he was speaking in relation to the allotment of resource revenues. But when did Regular Members have the opportunity to participate in that choice? To take part in the vote that led to that choice? We didn’t, and that galls me.

All input except that of Cabinet was ignored, and yesterday’s budget planned around 5 percent of the resource revenues going to the Heritage Fund. That decision was made long before any consultation with residents or MLAs took place.

Why bother to consult? Why bother to spend the money to consult? Why bother to give residents and MLAs hope that their opinions matter?

The Heritage Fund was established to capture and hold for our children’s children and their children’s children the revenues from the NWT’s non-renewable resources. When our resources are depleted and revenues from them are gone or drastically reduced, the Heritage Fund will be able to replace some of the foregone revenue. It will allow future governments to continue to provide the needed infrastructure and programs and services to NWT residents.

The difference between 5 percent and 25 percent of our resource revenues is about $9 million. What is

so vital in this $1.6 billion dollar budget that demands we use that $9 million now rather than saving it? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. On January 9th I was fortunate enough to attend an

event here in Yellowknife acknowledging nine of our future leaders across northern Canada, of which four were from the Northwest Territories. In fact, one of them works here in the Legislative Assembly.

In 2010 was the launching of the first Jane Glassco Arctic Fellowship Program, which included 12 recipients from across northern Canada.

In January this was the second group that were recipients to the program. This fellowship is aimed at young Northerners, especially Aboriginal Northerners, aged 25 to 35 who want to build a strong North that benefits Northerners.

The recipients look for additional support, networks and guidance from mentors and peers across the North as they deepen their understanding of important issues facing their regions, their communities and try to develop policy ideas to help address them.

The fellowship will build on the recipients’ experience during and 18-month-long program of both self-collected and collective sharing of knowledge and skills with the incorporating of traditional knowledge into the research process.

Recipients will then share their research and ideas publically and strengthen their ability to build a healthier, more self-reliant and sustainable North.

These candidates work on some of northern Canada’s greatest policy opportunities and most pressing challenges, including resource developments, climate change, water protection, language preservation, health, education, and leadership in governance. Of our four NWT fellows, some areas of focus will be on indigenous women taking leadership roles, source water protection, housing policy design, and traditional knowledge in northern communities as well as indigenous stewardship in the North.

These fellows develop these research papers with the recommendations that do go to governments and our public.

I will have questions later for the Premier of the government, to see what these recommendations, how they are worked on or how they are pointed to.

Lastly, I wish all the fellows across northern Canada the best of luck and encourage them to continue with their hard work, action and dedication in making the North a better place to live. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.