This is page numbers 6757 – 6826 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 health.

Topics

Reflection On Time As A Member Of The Legislative Assembly Of The NWT
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. During my penultimate day in the House, I note that governments all over the world are facing huge challenges. Some are responding responsibly, others not. I believe this government is failing our people and our land at a critical time when we can ill afford to be led down the wrong path.

Eight years ago, during my first Member’s statement, I read from the 2000 Earth Charter that says, “We stand at a critical moment in the Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward, we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms, we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace.”

I went on to note that I was excited about the possibilities and the promise that’s offered in the solutions to these challenges, but that it would take new thinking and new ways of doing things. But instead, we are frantically trying to do the same old things in the same old ways and are rather insanely expecting other results.

I noted then that how we do things can be a big part of the solution, benefitting all our residents and our northern and global environments, but where decisive action was required, we’ve taken only timid steps. While we could do the usual government things in new beneficial ways, we haven’t. Is it us? Is it consensus government, under which decisive action is unlikely? Is it our Premier, federally trained and with 30 years as a bureaucrat under his belt, unable to change course when evidence demands it? Possibly. Leadership is important. But under our model of government, every MLA plays a key role in helping us move forward or holding us back.

To me the biggest bottleneck is the lack of evidence-based decision-making, the degree to which an uninformed statement made with supreme confidence can undermine decisions that could and should be based on solid evidence is astounding.

We leave many great challenges for the 18th Assembly to wrestle with. We leave huge costs of living in an economy which favours a few. We remain unprepared for soaring climate change impacts. We leave burgeoning debt and dwindling revenues.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Reflection On Time As A Member Of The Legislative Assembly Of The NWT
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Yet, while some costs are unavoidable, it is possible to address these issues in progressive ways that can benefit our people and our land if we choose. I wish this 18th Assembly the very best for finding the best path forward.

Later today I will speak about opportunities they may wish to consider. Mahsi.

Reflection On Time As A Member Of The Legislative Assembly Of The NWT
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Blake.

Nursing And Policing Services In Tsiigehtchic
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Over the last four years, I’ve brought up growing concerns of the services in Tsiigehtchic, whether it be nursing, or RCMP. At this time of year, the residents feel a little better because we have a nurse on hand in the community, and with the growing number of elders we have in the community and the needs, people feel much safer.

With the RCMP, we had the department committing to having an RCMP overnighting in the community of Tsiigehtchic this summer and in place by this fall. But yet today there is still no action on this.

With all the technology today, whether it be campers, that’s all the department needs to have to offer this service in the community. You know, whether they have to pitch the tents, I mean, we have to find some solution here to provide these services in our communities, especially when we have commitments.

I’ll be asking the Minister questions later today. Thank you.

Nursing And Policing Services In Tsiigehtchic
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Support For Consensus Government In The NWT
Members’ Statements

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As we’ve come to the last couple days of this session, I thought I’d make a statement here. I’d like to speak on consensus government.

I support consensus government. As a new MLA here, I was able to get involved in the budget process, involved in committee, involved in everything in the government right from the get-go. I support consensus government. I know we need to improve it, but I’ve been part of the Transition Committee this summer on ways that we can improve consensus government, the way we can make it better for the public, for the Regular Members and for the Cabinet.

In consensus government I don’t have to tow a party line. It’s easy. My mandate is Hay River. I represent Hay River on a number of issues. Whenever I have a question, I just need to go home; I’ll get my mandate again. I just need to talk to people, have a constituency meeting and put it out to the people as a question. Whether that topic is dredging, fishing industry, northern manufacturing, Mental Health Act changes, whether it’s a school swap, that’s an example, Mr. Speaker. We had a discussion about school swap. We went home. Both groups told us no, we don’t want a school swap. That’s an example of consensus government. We’re given back our mandate; don’t accept that. We didn’t accept it. We’re dealing with the issue going forward.

We do need to improve consensus government and I think the key to that is communication. We need the government to communicate with Regular Members how things are being done and when things are being done, not just on the minimum amount of time but through the whole process.

Communication is a two-way street. Regular Members here need to be trusted with that information. We’re given that information early, so we need to rebuild that trust. We need to rebuild the trust that Regular Members get that information and it’s not going to end up on social media; it’s not going to end up on some press release right after it’s given.

For some reason, like I said, when I first got here, people talked about how the hallways had mikes in them, because as soon as we had a conversation, everybody seemed to know about it in the building. So, in order to improve consensus government, we need to improve our communication. We need to improve trust.

Consensus works for us in a small jurisdiction. It’s easy. If we had party politics, eventually somewhere down the line some community may be left out. If my community isn’t represented by the government, then I’m going to be left out in the cold. Consensus government works in the Northwest Territories and is strong and is alive. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Support For Consensus Government In The NWT
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, Mr. Moses.

Mental Illness Awareness Week
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. October 4th to 10th is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and the theme for this year is I am Stigma Free. It’s an opportunity to learn about and educate others on mental illness, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to take action on mental health issues.

Taking action is exactly what this government has done. The Standing Committee on Social Programs, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services, over the course of the summer and this fall did a very strong review and consultations with people of the Northwest Territories. We travelled to nine communities and had about 17 written submissions. We had consulted with a lot of professional organizations on updating our Mental Health Act, which was outdated for about 30 years.

The families across the Northwest Territories, residents of the Northwest Territories told us how they felt, told us about experiences that they’ve been dealing with in terms of issues that they’ve been dealing with and the Mental Health Act, let us know what the gaps in services were and what was needed.

It was a great opportunity, and later today committee will be reading in a report from all those findings. I hope people in the Northwest Territories who gave information, who gave us direction to update this Mental Health Act will be listening in and will be seeing what we have to offer and what we have to bring to the table.

With that said, I just wanted to take this opportunity. We have two days left in the House. The Mental Health Act and addictions has been strong on my agenda. I’m really glad to see that the Mental Health Act has had its due course, has had its respect in this House and is getting updated for the first time in about 30 years.

I just want to thank everybody who contributed to what we are going to be passing here later on today in Committee of the Whole, and also who attended the meetings in the communities. I’d like to thank the Members whose communities we visited for setting up those meetings. We’d like to thank all the front-line staff as well as family and friends who have been affected by mental health illness, coming out and showing us your support, if not giving us information.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Mental Illness Awareness Week
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

I just want to take one final opportunity here to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Social Programs, who had a lot of late nights going through the reports, doing the follow-up; the staff who helped us along the way as well as getting up early mornings, putting on all those kilometres to ensure that we listened to as many residents as possible to update this Mental Health Act.

I just want to also let family, friends and people who have been affected know that today we represent all those who have been affected by mental illness, whether it’s acute to severe, or tragic or fatal, that it’s not going to happen again and that this government is taking the first steps to make sure that, in fact, is true. We’re going to start fighting to support, to get the services in your communities, to get the services for the front-line workers and the staff so that we can help people who are affected by mental illness.

Mental Illness Awareness Week
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Economic Potential In Sahtu Region
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our North is rich in resources, and yet we have yet to fully untap the potential of our people, our youth. We have potential in our lands. The trick to any government is to connect that potential with each other. That’s the trick of any leadership, any people. How do we untap the potential of our young people, the ones who are going to school, with the opportunities that are rich in our lands? Through imagination, through initiatives.

The Sahtu sits in the midst of amazing wealth and resources, but we have not yet realized how we have access to this wealth and these resources. It’s sitting there waiting for us. The closest we have come was in the 1930s and ’40s, first with the uranium mine and Great Bear Lake, tapping that resource, and then the Canol pipeline in the ‘40s. The key part of these two projects were done without any input or tapping the knowledge from the Aboriginal people, the owners of the land. Today in the Sahtu this is not the case. We have a land claim that was negotiated and settled. It has the highest constitutional protection in Canada. This is the highest law in Canada.

The Sahtu is rich in its economic opportunities. We have a way to realize we have a way to participate with this government in developing the region. We have a labour force that wants to work. It does not want to be dependent on government handouts. We have resources that need to be untapped.

I will ask further questions of the Minister of ITI at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Economic Potential In Sahtu Region
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Mental Health Programs And Services In Nahendeh Region
Members’ Statements

October 7th, 2015

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to speak about the mental health services in the Nahendeh region. It’s often hard to talk about, but there’s never any shortage of tragic and painful things going on in our communities.

Addictions-related problems keep surfacing in part because of things that the residential school legacy left behind. Residents need more help if they’re going to recover from things like drug and alcohol abuse. People need to heal from the painful things that happened.

I understand that the report on the new Mental Health Act will be tabled today. There’s certainly been a lot of talk about it on the this side of the House. One of the things that the standing committee found is how many front-line positions are vacant across the Northwest Territories. That’s a concern in my region where residents of Fort Simpson, Fort Providence and Fort Liard have gone for long stretches of time without access to mental health workers. In Nahanni Butte, Trout Lake and Wrigley, help is even thinner on the ground.

Limited funding is a concern. A $10,000 program for Trout Lake gets 50 percent of it used for air travel alone. This must also be reviewed and addressed.

We’re all hoping for a brighter future with a new Mental Health Act. Later, during the session in Committee of the Whole, we will hear about how the updated act will benefit the people of the Northwest Territories, and I look forward to those discussions. Mahsi.

Mental Health Programs And Services In Nahendeh Region
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Ministerial Travel Claims
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Eight weeks ago today I wrote an e-mail to the Minister of Finance because of complaints I received from the public about Minister Ramsay’s most recent travel claim to a luxury hotel in Quebec and using a luxury car. In my e-mail I had asked a number of questions about the luxury rental vehicle, luxury hotel, government paying for Ministers going to weddings and many more questions along the lines of Minister’s signing off their own travel claims, but one of the concerns I raised was how long has this been going on. So I specifically asked the Minister of Finance to have an independent review of Minister Ramsay’s travel claims for the past year. I know this can happen because it does happen regularly. So I asked for an independent review because I think it falls well within the realms of the ability.

I often hear that government bean counters go months after travel claims have been filed and they audit them for clarification and confirmation of expenses. If an error has been processed in good faith, I’m prepared to accept that for what it is. Small administrative errors happen. We’re all human. It’s easy to tick a box off accidentally and sometimes even unknowingly. However, if an error is habitual, then we do have some problems. An example of that could be claiming dinners repeatedly as your per diems, but the conference or meetings all seem to provide them. That would be wrong.

I know this Minister has flown friends and family around and didn’t offer to pay for them at first, until I complained to the Comptroller General, who, once reviewed the situation, found my point correct and the Minister did pay the money back. What I find interesting is I sent the e-mail and it was received by the Finance Minister on Wednesday, August 12th, but it took him two days after my e-mail was sent to reply that Minister Ramsay has called for a review on his own self.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but when you look at Friday’s newspaper of that week when it hit the streets of Yellowknife and me making a statement saying this needs to be done, coincidence starts to add up. Two days to be able to call the reviewers on their own self starts to make you wonder. The Minister has justified his expenses in Monday’s paper, stood by them very strongly, but then all of a sudden, wait a minute, he changes his mind.

The fact remains that the reasonable request is outstanding. If a simple error has been made, I still stand by that point; accidents happen. But if it’s habitual, we need to be asking ourselves, how do we correct this?

I brought this point up again to the Minister of Finance when we were out at the Caucus retreat over a month ago, that he didn’t answer all my requests in the e-mail. The point is, this review is still outstanding and it’s reasonable to be done. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.