This is page numbers 6259 – 6290 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 work.

Topics

Elders Facilities In Mackenzie Delta
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My constituents are patiently waiting the opening of the new elders facility in Aklavik and also the start of construction of the new elders home in Fort McPherson.

Elders are looking forward to their new homes, which will also help keep our elders in the community with home support. This will also give an opportunity for people who have been on a waiting list for housing.

I will have questions for the Minister later today to ensure we are on schedule. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

C.d. Howe Study On Fiscal Accountability Of Governments
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The C.D. Howe Institute is an independent not-for-profit research institute which is widely considered by many to be Canada’s most influential think-tank. It is Canada’s trusted source of essential policy, intelligence, distinguished by research that is non-partisan, evidence-based and subject to definitive expert review.

In April of this year C.D. Howe released a study, titled “By the Numbers: The Fiscal Accountability of Canada’s Senior Governments, 2015.” This study is based on the premise that a reasonably capable and interested non-expert should be able to read a government’s budget documents and year-end public accounts to assess whether the government is meeting its promises and commitments. Working from this premise, the study analyzed the budgets and public accounts of Canada’s federal government and provincial and territorial governments in order to assess the quality and clarity of their financial recording.

According to C.D. Howe, the GNWT’s quality of reporting tied with Quebec as the third poorest in the country, earning a D-plus grade. This study concluded that the GNWT public accounts were consistent with public sector accounting board standards and it did, “save the Northwest Territories from getting outright failing grades. yet its budgets would bewilder our idealized reader with multiple presentations of revenue and spending figures that no non-expert could possibly reconcile with the headline figures in their public accounts.”

As a member of the Standing Committee on Government Operations that undertakes this challenging exercise every year, I can personally attest to just how accurate these findings are. We hear repeatedly from this government, in almost every speech and every Minister’s statement, how committed the GNWT is to accountability and transparency. Yet if this commitment is not followed with meaningful actions to ensure the public and legislators have the information needed to independently assess the government’s performance, then this is merely lip service.

A D-plus grade on financial reporting from an esteemed Canadian research institute should be a wake-up call to the Minister of Finance that it is time to up his game and put serious effort into improving the quality of GNWT’s financial reporting.

Later today I will be looking for a commitment from Minister Miltenberger to do just that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

C.d. Howe Study On Fiscal Accountability Of Governments
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Tribute To The Late Mr. Ron Mccagg
Members’ Statements

May 29th, 2015

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Today I wanted to honour Mr. Ron McCagg who passed away suddenly last week in Fort Simpson. He became a big part of Fort Simpson when he began living there. Not only did he serve on the village council for over two decades, Ron worked for the GNWT for 38 years, including 30 years in Fort Simpson. Last year he retired as a superintendent of Public Works and Services and looked forward to the next phase of his life.

Since his sudden passing, many friends and colleagues have spoken out to remember him with great respect and love, describing him as a gentleman, a straight-shooter and a man who liked to stand up for the little guy. He had a passion for fairness, always working to make a difference in people’s lives on and away from work, and age was no barrier for his lifelong mission. Seventy years old this year, in fact his passion for fairness was such that he had intended to run for MLA this fall.

For me, it was an honour to know and work with him for the 12 years in my capacity as MLA for Nahendeh. Ron is survived by his loving family, two daughters, Natasha and Heather, their husbands, as well as four wonderful granddaughters, also his partner, Lucy, and her son, Quinton. I fondly recall last year how proud he was to give his granddaughters a ride around Fort Simpson on his new three-wheel Harley Davidson.

The community of Fort Simpson has lost a great man and a strong voice. Ron will be greatly missed. On Monday, June 1st , at 2:00 p.m., the people of

Fort Simpson will celebrate his life at the Fort Simpson Recreational Centre. If you can’t make it, the Deh Cho Drum offered for anyone to contact them with their memories of Ron to share. I know all my colleagues who knew and met him over the years will join me in offering condolences to Ron’s family. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Tribute To The Late Mr. Ron Mccagg
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

South Slave Successful Bid For The 2018 Arctic Winter Games
Members’ Statements

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s ironic the light is shining on me today. The light will be shining on the South Slave in 2018 when the South Slave hosts the Arctic Winter Games.

In March the International Committee announced that Hay River/Fort Smith were the successful components in the joint bid for the Arctic Winter Games. I would like to give a big shout out to the bid committee for both communities as well as those communities that are participating. Enterprise and Fort Res will be involved as well.

Both town councils have been working hard and budgeting for this process, and they had a meeting a couple weekends ago to get the process working. Now the work begins. They have to roll up their sleeves and make this a big success.

I look forward to the opportunity when the Minister, Minister R.C. McLeod from Inuvik Twin Lakes, will come down and sign the agreement for the Arctic Winter Games. There is great excitement to see this come back into the regions. The Arctic Winter Games will be coming back to the people of the Northwest Territories.

I’d like to thank the Department of MACA and the GNWT for additional funding to do it right and put it out into the regions. This will be a 40-year anniversary for Hay River to have the Arctic Winter Games. We hosted it last time in the South Slave with Pine Point. It will be the 40th anniversary in

2018.

I do support the fact that we need this back in the regions. The Beau-Del and Inuvik didn’t win this bid, but I think the Arctic Winter Games should go there next. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

South Slave Successful Bid For The 2018 Arctic Winter Games
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

On-The-Land Corrections Programming
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Justice on the land, the only place where there is justice. That was told to me by a colleague this morning.

I want to talk about the Justice department, the soon-to-be corrections department. One of the mission statements of the Justice department is “working with community members so that communities are safe and secure.” One of the five goals: the department is better equipped to provide core programs and services.

Under the corrections activity description, corrections services provide safe custody and supervision of adult and youth offenders. It also states later on, “deliver culturally relevant programs to support reallocation and reintegration, including wilderness camps and elders’ support.”

A further look into the budget here of 2014-15, the adult facilities at a $24 million budget, grants and contributions in the same report here says the Elders Program is $30,000, wilderness camp is $149,000, for a total of $179,000. This budget tells

us how this department supports NWT wilderness camps, and with $24 million versus $179,000 clearly this shows that something has to change.

The Auditor General, in his report, confirmed and stated that our corrections and management operations were not in compliance with key rehabilitation and reintegration requirements. Read the report and you’ll wonder why we haven’t made much achievement in our area.

We also had a profile of inmates who transport goods into our facility, and we have a population that is well, well overrepresented by Aboriginal people. We need a change of attitudes and mindset by corrections and the Justice department.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

On-The-Land Corrections Programming
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Wilderness camps are a valuable method for allowing offenders to maintain and enhance their traditional knowledge and skill to help in reintegration and rehabilitation when released from custody.

In closing, we need a strong commitment by this Minister to direct his officials. Let’s make these wilderness camps a success and get the resources to do that. Thank you.

On-The-Land Corrections Programming
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Improved Communications Policies Regarding Highway Closures
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On Monday evening I happened to catch on the CBC website late that night, I noticed that there was a story, and the story headline said, “NWT Highway No. 3 at Risk of Closing Due to Forest Fire.”

That story was issued at 5:37 that evening. What caused me some individual concern is after last year’s fire experience, there was no e-mail in my inbox saying that there was going to be a closure of the highway. Not only that, to my surprise, I had been talking to people in the industry, the grocery industry saying that they had no notice in any way.

The following morning it was followed up by a Twitter notice saying forest fires near Highway No. 3. Again, no e-mail in the MLAs’ box.

It’s not a point of criticism, but MLAs are part of the solution to ensure that public information can be disseminated in a timely and safe way. Now, I know this isn’t a story or a Member’s statement quite as sexy as a screaming scandal of terrible things, the sky is falling, but the reality is good public communication is vital to ensure that the public knows what’s happening.

As I said about the grocery companies, in speaking to them, they wondered why the Department of Transportation doesn’t communicate with them as part of the critical infrastructure of public information. If you ask a grocery store, they said that in five days, or even four days if really pressed, they can fully stock their shelves for the long haul, just like the good old ice road closure days, like the ice road crossings. They said in two days they could bring any vital, critical type of perishable to their stores and be prepared for a bit of a short-haul but ensure that all their transportation of important goods come through.

What’s important, as well, is I’ve been informed that during last season’s experience, tractor trailers were sitting with milk, eggs and vegetables while lumber and other types of dry goods were passing through. So the issue really came forward as what are our priorities and have we learned any lessons from last season’s highway closure.

I’m not taking a personal issue with the fact that the department was doing some due diligence by ensuring that the public has known, but I think MLAs are critical to be part of the solution to ensure that we can provide information in a timelier way. People look to us. When my neighbour walks across the street and says, “What the heck is happening?” I say, “I don’t know, but I just e-mailed the Minister and I’m waiting for an answer myself.” We cannot have that type of solution. Here is the opportunity, and I’ll finish it by saying I’ll have some questions about solutions during question period. Thank you.

Improved Communications Policies Regarding Highway Closures
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. The Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Flexible Employment Opportunities
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Even knowing the opportunities for Member’s statements during this short session are few, I would want to take time today to profile the need for and importance of providing flexibility in part-time versus full-time jobs in government and in our communities. This simple but key act yields benefits ranging from an enhanced quality of life to a healthier society and the retention and attraction of NWT workers and families. The far-reaching impact of this modest tweak to employment patterns is something that job providers throughout the Northwest Territories, both public and private, really need to pay heed to.

Time and time again people tell me they want jobs that give them more time to engage in the community outside of work. They want what we want: increased self-sufficiency, diverse economic opportunities, time for volunteer work and involvement in neighbourhood and community support and quality family time, especially with

young children. Well, even my good friend Peter McKay today exemplifies exactly this. People realize life is about more than a paycheque. They are looking for healthier, compassionate and more well-rounded lives. Businesses find challenges filling jobs, though they are much quicker to realize the need to offer different opportunities to employers like adjusting work time. The GNWT has difficulty filling hundreds of positions, with 500 to 700 empty at any one time.

We claim that temporary foreign workers are required to fill many of the available traditionally configured jobs. Perhaps a new approach is called for. I am always saddened when a hardworking and valued employee approaches the employer to request a change to half or three-quarter time and the ask is denied with little attempt to accommodate. Typically the employee is seeking a chance for personal development, home construction or renovation, volunteering in civil society or care of an ailing family member. Such rejection of engagement leads to the loss of a dedicated long-term employee and loss of all broader benefits.

We had shoehorned ourselves into defining jobs as one person year, no matter what the job is. I don’t buy it. Granted, it may be difficult initially to decline the work in ways that full, half, three-quarter or two-thirds steps can do, but the workforce, family, employer and, indeed, community benefits would soon outweigh that initial difficulty.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Flexible Employment Opportunities
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Job sharing, seasonal jobs and reduced-time jobs are important factors in the quality of life. Providing people with job opportunities geared to today’s northern lifestyle would yield happier and more productive workers with healthier families and communities. It may well yield improved attention and attraction of new northern families.

I urge this government to pursue this opportunity soon, and I will have questions for the Minister. Mahsi.

Flexible Employment Opportunities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.