This is page numbers 4649 – 4690 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.


The House met at 1:31 p.m.



The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 78-17(5): Healthy Food For Schools
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, healthy, educated people are a priority for this Assembly and our government continues to investigate ways to support our children’s development and give them the right start in life.

We have many strategies across the GNWT that work together to provide supports for northern children, families, residents and communities. One of these is Building on the Strengths of Northerners: A Strategic Framework toward the Elimination of Poverty in the NWT. This framework addresses five priority areas: children and families, healthy living, safe and affordable housing, sustainable communities and better integration of services.

I am extremely pleased to announce that with funding provided in support of the Anti-Poverty Strategy, we have identified $650,000 to contribute to a new Healthy Food for Schools Program. With assistance from the NWT Bureau of Statistics, we have established the formula for distribution, taking into account food cost indexes, school student populations and median incomes of communities.

Mr. Speaker, research clearly shows that children who eat nutritious food are more physically active, alert and attentive. These children have better school attendance and are more successful at school.

The Health and Health-related Behaviours among Young People in the NWT report from 2012 identified that many of children and youth in the NWT often go to bed hungry because there is not enough food at home.

Providing healthy food through universal programs is one of the best ways to reach those who need it the most. These funds will allow schools to build on existing programs and potentially expand them to increase the number of serving days and increase the age range of students they support.

In addition to the Food for Schools funding, the Anti-Poverty Strategy is also providing $150,000 for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs’ Active After School Program. This funding will be used to provide healthy snacks for children and youth participating in MACA’s after-school programs.

Funding for these important initiatives will help support children and youth to access healthy and nutritious food in both school and in after-school settings.

Research and best practices show that partnerships are the way to build the strongest school meal programs. Our government continues to do its part and we encourage schools to continue to use existing partnerships and seek new partners, where possible.

Mr. Speaker, we are on the right track. With every investment our government makes in children’s health, well-being and development, and in families’ ability to ensure their children can access opportunities for healthy growth and learning, our collective future becomes brighter. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 78-17(5): Healthy Food For Schools
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 79-17(5): Community Emergency Preparedness
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, two years ago the 17th Legislative Assembly made supporting

sustainable, vibrant, safe communities one of its goals. Today I wish to advise Members on Municipal and Community Affairs’ efforts to help achieve that important goal. I am referring to efforts that are underway to help ensure the safety and security of Northwest Territories residents by assisting with community emergency preparedness.

Communities in the NWT have experienced natural, technological and human-caused hazards in the

past and will continue to do so in the future. Emergencies related to these hazards can occur at any time and in any place, with or without warning. Planning for and responding to emergency events is an ongoing process involving all levels of government.

Over the past several years, community governments have made considerable progress towards improving their emergency response capabilities.

Eleven communities have created new emergency response plans since 2011, while eight have updated their existing plan. MACA will continue to work with communities to assist them in updating or creating emergency response plans, and last month MACA delivered its first table-top exercise in Whati, which is now available to all communities to help validate current plans.

Mr. Speaker, emergency preparedness involves continual planning and capacity building. Our collective efforts need to help ensure all communities reach a suitable level of readiness. To this end, MACA is engaged in several important initiatives that will help lay a foundation with which to support and strengthen community efforts.

This summer, MACA’s School of Community Government, in partnership with the Department of Transportation, will begin delivery of first responder training to community volunteers and staff. These skills are critical in responding to emergencies outside medical facilities and at remote locations.

Mr. Speaker, the department recently completed a territorial hazard identification risk assessment which provides community governments with guidance concerning risks that pose the greatest threat to people, property, environment and the economy. This tool can be used to update community emergency plans, develop municipal disaster risk mitigation plans and guide development of emergency response exercises. These tools are especially important as we enter into this year’s forest fire season.

MACA has also started work on modernizing the Civil Emergency Measures Act to ensure it provides the Government of the NWT and community governments with effective tools to respond to hazards in our current environment.

This year MACA will begin updating the Northwest Territories Emergency Plan, which has not been thoroughly reviewed since 2001. It is time that we ensure the plan provides the GNWT and its partners with proper guidance to implement an effective territorial response when necessary.

As clearly demonstrated, keeping residents safe in our communities involves a number of key elements all working together. Success is achieved by partners coming together to ensure effective planning and capacity.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend community governments for their continued efforts in this important area, and once again, I encourage their continued support and participation in the work ahead of us. I would also like to remind all residents of the NWT that emergency preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. Every household should have a plan for an emergency ready in case of an emergency. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 79-17(5): Community Emergency Preparedness
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister of Human Resources, Mr. Beaulieu.

Minister's Statement 80-17(5): NWT Public Service – National Public Service Week
Ministers’ Statements

Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Human Resources

Mr. Speaker, June 15th to

21th is National Public Service Week. This year’s

theme is “Proudly Serving Canadians.” National Public Service Week provides an opportunity for us to celebrate the contribution and accomplishments of public service employees across Canada and especially here in the Northwest Territories.

A strong territory needs a strong society. 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. The GNWT is committed to helping our residents achieve their aspirations for themselves, their families and their communities by providing the right support, programs and services, and we rely on a dedicated and engaged public service to deliver those programs and services.

Providing quality programs and services to our residents requires an engaged public service. Employees who are engaged not only in their daily work but also in communities of interest help make the public service the best place to work. Our employees are interested in the environment, diversity, Aboriginal relations, health and safety, and work together to offer solutions to improve programs and services for residents and employees. Our employees are involved in charitable and social activities which contribute to community well-being where they work and live. These actions tell us our public service employees are engaged in contributing to the quality of life here in our territory.

Mr. Speaker, earlier today the Premier recognized employees and individuals who contribute through their efforts and actions to the success of the public service in helping residents achieve their aspirations. The 2014 Premier’s Awards recipients are: • Award for Excellence Individuals – Tom

Wasylyshyn with the Department of Justice in Fort Smith;

• Award for Excellence Employee Teams – the

Devolution Implementation Team, the Accountability Framework Development Team and the “NWT Days” Team;

• Award for Collaboration – the Aboriginal Cultural

Awareness Training Group, the Northern Sustainable Housing Project Design Team and the Wildlife Act Working Group;

• Dave Ramsden Career Excellence Award –

Warren St. Germaine with the Department of Finance.

I invite you to join me in congratulating the recipients of the 2014 Premier’s Awards presented this morning.

Mr. Speaker, it is an exciting time for the NWT. Our new authority and responsibility for public lands, water and resources bring significant changes. Northerners are now making decisions about the things that matter most to them: about our economy, about our environment and about the kind of society we want to be. On April 1st , in

addition to the devolution of new authority and responsibilities, we were very pleased to welcome 131 former federal public servants into the GNWT who bring experience, expertise and enthusiasm for these new responsibilities.

Under our NWT Public Service Strategic Plan, work continues so we can enhance the capacity and effectiveness of our public service. We continue to build and maintain a representative workforce. We reaffirm learning and development as an ongoing priority in the GNWT public service. We work to ensure occupational health and safety. We build understanding and awareness of diversity, particularly an appreciation of the rich cultures upon which our territory is founded and which inform our programs and services.

Mr. Speaker, in April the Government of the Northwest Territories was honoured to be acknowledged as one of Canada’s Top Employers of Young People for 2014. This national award recognizes our employment, culture and career management initiatives as being some of the best across the country in supporting younger workers to advance in their careers.

The 2014 Internship and Summer Student programs are underway, providing young Northerners with unique work experience. I am pleased to advise that as of May 29th , 228 summer

students have been hired with approximately 49.5 percent being indigenous Aboriginal and 48.2 percent being indigenous non-Aboriginal. Summer student orientation sessions started earlier this week, providing these youth information on their opportunities and responsibilities as GNWT employees as well as information on diversity, cultural awareness and occupational health and safety.

Mr. Speaker, the public service has accomplished a lot in support of Believing in People and Building on the Strengths of Northerners. They have proudly served NWT residents. I invite Members to join me in thanking public service employees for a job well done. There is still more to accomplish in our term and I know that with our engaged public service we will be successful. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 80-17(5): NWT Public Service – National Public Service Week
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister's Statement 81-17(5): Junior Kindergarten Facts
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, last week I informed the Assembly that officials from the Department of Education, Culture and Employment would be meeting with officials from the two Yellowknife education authorities to compare financial numbers about junior kindergarten. I would like to advise the Assembly of the results of those meetings because I think they confirmed that there is a lot of incorrect information floating around about junior kindergarten.

Mr. Speaker, there seems to be too much opinion and not enough facts about junior kindergarten, which is why I tabled a detailed fact package in the Assembly on Tuesday. I encourage all Members, parents and the public to look at it on the Department of Education, Culture and Employment’s website. Today I would like to highlight some of these facts because I am very concerned that we are forgetting how important and beneficial this program will be for children in every community in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the Yellowknife education authorities, like every other education authority, will help finance the implementation of junior kindergarten through re-profiled funds. Junior kindergarten will not be introduced in Yellowknife until 2016-17, so these two education authorities will see their budgets reduced in 2014-15 and 2015-16. However, as the fact package clearly shows, in 2016-17 both Yellowknife boards will get a significant injection of new money. This will come from two sources: their share of the reallocated junior kindergarten implementation dollars because they will start delivering junior kindergarten, and the new money that they will get because of the 16 to 1 pupil-teacher ratio commitment that I made in this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, working with the officials from the two boards, we have identified maximum and minimum funding estimates for this new pupil-teacher ratio money based on two projected enrolment scenarios. I would like to confirm that Yellowknife Catholic Schools is projected to receive a budget increase in 2016-17 of between $580,000 and just

over $1 million dollars, depending on their student enrolment. Yellowknife Education District No. 1 is projected to receive a budget increase of between $1.14 million and $1.25 million in 2016-17. This important fact has been missing from the debate about how we are funding junior kindergarten in Yellowknife. I believe this makes a very powerful statement that Yellowknife is not being treated unfairly, as some people might have us believe.

Mr. Speaker, it has been said that the Northwest Territories has one of the worst pupil-teacher ratios in Canada. This is not true. Our territory-wide pupil-teacher ratio is 13.8 to 1, which is right on the Canadian average and comparable to most southern jurisdictions.

It has been said that we are not spending enough on kindergarten to Grade 12 education in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Speaker, the facts say something very different. The Northwest Territories is one of the best funded education systems in Canada. We spend just over $22,000 on every student, and the Canadian average is approximately $12,500 per student. We spend more than the other two territories and nearly double the Canadian average.

Mr. Speaker, it has been said that we are going to steal money from the dedicated Inclusive Schooling funding that assists students with unique needs. This is not true. Junior kindergarten implementation will not impact the approximately $26 million in Inclusive Schooling funding that education authorities receive for this purpose alone.

It has been said that I am forcing education authorities to spend their surpluses on junior kindergarten implementation. As I have already said in this Assembly, this is not true. It is up to them how they spend this pot of taxpayers’ money that was originally provided to them to deliver the best possible education program.

Mr. Speaker, we have even heard some people say that the junior kindergarten curriculum “lacks benefits for four-year-olds” and is “harmful to some aspects of child development.” This play-based curriculum was designed by professionals to be developmentally appropriate for both four- and five-year-old children. It was also built on the foundation of our cultural curricula, to help young children be confident and proud of who they are and where they come from.

Mr. Speaker, this is not a perfect world where resources are unlimited and there are no competing priorities. Our fiscal reality demands that the government exercise prudence and look at where it spends money, to see if it could do better by re-profiling some of it. Mr. Speaker, that is our duty as a responsible government and we did just that.

Some people might say that we should just wait and deliver junior kindergarten in a year or two,

when our fiscal situation might improve. But this overlooks the immediate benefit that junior kindergarten will have for four-year-olds in many of our small communities. Junior kindergarten is an investment in the future of our children. Delaying it doesn’t just defer the expenditure to another year, delaying it deprives our children of a chance to get the kind of support now that can give them lifelong advantages. Twenty-nine communities were given a choice whether or not to deliver junior kindergarten in 2014-15 and 23 communities have now said yes. We must deliver on that promise.

Mr. Speaker, change is often difficult and some people fear the unknown. But we should not lose sight of the most important fact that has remained throughout this debate: almost everyone supports junior kindergarten and agrees that it will help families across this territory. For some it will be the only child care option in their community. For others it will save the family up to $1,000 per month. Free, safe, optional, play-based junior kindergarten is simply the right thing to do for our children. At the end of the day, that is what really matters. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 81-17(5): Junior Kindergarten Facts
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Item 3, Members’ statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Blake.

Municipal Services In Fort Mcpherson
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My statement today is on municipal services in Fort McPherson. Over the past couple of years, the hamlet incurred a deficit of over $2 million. This deficit has affected the hamlet, the employees and the users of the services. My constituents continue to call, asking why they have to pay back the deficit, which the hamlet council took upon themselves for better services, only to be pulled deeper into debt.

I want to ask the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, where is the control? At what point does the department step up and say there’s something wrong? Where are the auditors? Who authorizes funding to council when there is such a deficit? The department needs to realize that responsibility is shared.

Municipal service costs in Fort McPherson have drastically increased and this is affecting everyone. The local housing authority is not getting any extra subsidy for the increase in water, elders are not compensated for extra costs and they have a fixed income every month. Homeowners are barely making it as it is. Now they have to pay almost three times what they were normally paying.

Is there any way that the department can work with the community to lower the municipal service bills so that community members could gradually adjust to the increase? The department should consider a five- to 10-year payback on a deficit, not recover it in one year at the expense of community members. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Municipal Services In Fort Mcpherson
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

CKLB Radio Revenue Stabilization
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. CKLB Radio has been a prominent member of the NWT media community since the 1980s and has been a forum of news, Aboriginal issues, culture, languages, public service announcements and entertainment. The station, with a following of about 20,000 residents, produces Aboriginal language programming as part of its schedule. It plays an integral part of the Aboriginal culture, and with a wide geographic predisposition to deal with, it’s a gathering place of sorts for many.

CKLB also has many Aboriginal listeners who get another perspective on life and culture in the NWT that is provided by mainstream media. Its small revenue helps support its operation, but not much more. Luckily, it receives some core funding from Heritage Canada; however, this core model has not increased in over 30 years.

Its owner, the Native Communications Society, is always on a lean funding base and the station has struggled to keep up the maintenance of its community transmitters and, sadly, has been unable to implement new technology for communication. To draw an analogy, the station is a Timex watch working in a digital age.

There has been a long-standing relationship with the work of the society and CKLB in supporting many GNWT initiatives over the years. Some of these initiatives include promotion, use of Aboriginal languages, education, information of GNWT programs and event broadcasting.

Admittedly, the GNWT, through inconsistent community broadcasting grant programs or broadcasting contribution programs, has played a very small role in revenue stabilization. It has never contributed in ways to help upgrade CKLB to current technology. Clearly, it would be a tragic loss to all in our territory if CKLB wasn’t able to maintain operation.

Therefore, at the appropriate time, I will be asking the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment for his role in the state of northern and Aboriginal broadcasting in the NWT, with the hopes of a renewed commitment from his department and the GNWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

CKLB Radio Revenue Stabilization
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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