This is page numbers 6391 – 6418 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 services.

Topics

Morel Mushroom Harvest Concerns
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Funding Long-Term Care
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We hear a lot about our financial situation from the government every year almost every time the House sits, and it’s all doom and gloom. “We have no money,” we keep hearing.

I’m all for being fiscally prudent and I compliment the Finance Minister and staff for their ability to keep us financially solvent, but I’m also a firm believer in searching for new revenues and thinking outside the box to find them. We haven’t done much of either in my years in the Assembly.

Towards the end of the 16th Assembly, action was taken to look at supplementary health benefits. A working group spent many hours considering possible changes which might reduce the cost of the program. When word of potential changes got out into the public, there was a great hue and cry and change was abandoned. But it’s time to again consider new approaches to how we provide health care services to our residents.

I have no illusions. Asking people to pay for something that has always been free does not go over well. But it is time to look at means testing for residents using one specific service, and that would be long-term or extended care, the most expensive of all of our seniors’ housing options.

Our senior population is growing and it will continue to grow. Many more seniors are retiring in the North. As they age in the North, they will eventually require long-term or extended care.

A good portion of our northern retirees have pretty good pensions. They can well afford to pay actual costs for their long-term or extended care housing. Most importantly, many seniors are willing to pay for that kind of accommodation.

But Health and Social Services and Cabinet seem unwilling to rock the boat, to even think about such a change. Say "means testing" and "qualify for a program" in the same breath and people treat you like a pariah. But I believe it’s time to rip the band-aid off, as they say, and reopen the conversation from four years ago. It is time we started charging realistic rent for long-term care for those who can afford it. Thank you.

Funding Long-Term Care
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Premier’s Award Recipient Peter Clarkson
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I made a couple of statements in this House about some of the great people that we have in Inuvik and today I want to continue that kind of a trend of Member’s statements that I have been doing over the last couple of weeks.

I too was able to attend the Premier’s Award of Excellence this morning and I would like to congratulate all individual and team award recipients. I want to state that their contribution to the government, to the residents of the North and to our culture is much appreciated.

I would like to recognize and appreciate one person in particular. This morning I was very glad to see that Mr. Peter Clarkson was recognized. He wasn’t recognized for only one award, he was actually recognized for two different types of programs that we have been pushing and have been priorities of this government and have been doing really great things.

First off, he was recognized as a recipient for the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link Project Development Team, of which we have been hearing really good things and has been very innovative and is going to bring us up to speed on how the Northwest Territories does business, not across Canada but across the world.

The second award that he was recognized for is the single window service centres. That in itself has come a long way in helping people in the remote and the small communities get the help, get the support that they need by educating and training these individuals to help our elders, to help those who might have learning disabilities and to help people in the small communities. I just want to recognize Mr. Peter Clarkson for being a reward recipient today of two awards. I am not sure if there is anybody in the past that has been recognized for two different occasions.

A little bit about Peter is he is a very strong community advocate. He has helped with the building, the structure of the Children First Centre and the Midnight Sun Recreation Centre. He has also helped organize the film and photo festival that goes on every year. He is very involved in the community on various levels. At one point he was a councillor and the mayor of Inuvik, and I was very glad to serve with him in my tenure as a town councillor when he was serving as our mayor. Not only that but he does have a compassion for the people in the community, a strong compassion for our elders in long-term care and in the community. He has been known to provide traditional foods to people in the community of Inuvik.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Premier’s Award Recipient Peter Clarkson
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Although Peter wasn’t here to receive his awards today, I want to recognize him nonetheless. I know he would have loved to be here but I know he’s doing some work. His commitments to his work have made him not be here today.

Currently Peter is our public administrator for the Inuvik region and he is doing a very great job with all the departments that we have under government. He also does a really great job coordinating visits when government comes to town, or any other ambassadors, whether from across Canada, international or from the GNWT.

I would like the Members to join me in recognizing Mr. Peter Clarkson, two time recipient of the Premier’s Award of Excellence today. Thank you.

Premier’s Award Recipient Peter Clarkson
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Basic Guaranteed Income
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This government has chosen to pursue a focus on helping people lift themselves out of poverty. Unfortunately, the welfare-based system we now have in place has proven unsuccessful. It is complex, intrusive and inefficient and administration is too costly. Not enough dollars are getting through to the people who need them. Instead they are chewed up by an increasingly expensive bureaucracy. Positive outcomes are few and far between and the cycle of poverty deepens.

Economists of all political stripes, both right and left, agree that a better and more effective tool is the basic guaranteed income. Automatically topping up the incomes of people living in poverty using direct automatic payments through the existing tax system has many benefits. It allows families to keep their assets, get off and stay off social assistance, and it negates the need for an expensive bureaucracy to oversee a system of applications, monitoring, and a continuous justification on the part of the recipients.

The system encourages people to find work by giving them the security of an income guarantee without the fear of being worse off by working, unlike the current system with its clawbacks for extra income.

The idea of a guaranteed annual income is gaining traction. In Finland, the Pro-Basic Income Party won the recent national election. Calgary Mayor Nenshi, at the National Poverty Reduction Summit last month in Ottawa, called for a “brave step” toward a basic income guarantee. Edmonton mayor Iveson spoke in favour of it, suggesting that Alberta’s two largest cities should pilot it towards poverty solutions that work.

The premier of PEI is on record as supporting a guaranteed income. Groups are sprouting up all over Canada and an international movement towards poverty reduction based on a guaranteed income is growing worldwide.

We in the NWT have the dubious distinction of having the greatest income disparity in Canada. Rather than pursuing the same hopeless techniques for poverty reduction, we need to do something different. It’s time to give a new idea a chance, and the new idea that is most likely to be successful is a basic income guarantee. Where is the pilot study on this potential? We have nothing to lose but poverty. Let’s at least look into it and include it on our transition papers.

Basic Guaranteed Income
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Great Bear Lake Watershed Management Plan
Members’ Statements

June 3rd, 2015

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As all Members know, the community of Deline has for years been concerned about the waters of Great Bear Lake. It has worked hard to ensure that the development proceeds in a way that does not do undue harm to the environment, the cultural integrity of the lake and its watershed. The community has been a leader in the field of sustainable development and engaged fully in the negotiations which resulted in the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement and the land use planning process which resulted in the Sahtu Land Use Plan. It led the development of the Great Bear Lake Watershed Management Plan and recently successfully concluded the Deline Final Self-Government Agreement. Deline has been supportive and part of a Devolution Agreement which has been another incident of self-government.

In recognition of Deline’s leadership, a nomination for international recognition in sustainable development has been submitted to the United Nations education council and cultural organization Man and the Biosphere Program. This designation, if approved by UNESCO, would be the first such designation north of 60 anywhere. It would firmly endorse the use of northern tools and ensuring responsible economic development proceeds in the context of sound environmental stewardship. It will place a spotlight on Deline and the Northwest Territories as a place where sustainable development is actively practiced and led by Northerners. The designation is entirely consistent with the principles embedded in the Land Use and Sustainability Framework, the Sustainable Development Policy and in our regulatory system. In effect, the Premier’s Award of Excellence at an international scale.

The designation would fully endorse the northern tools promoted by the Government of the Northwest Territories, including the land claims, the Sahtu Land Use Plan and the Great Bear Lake Watershed Management Plan. It celebrates the success of those tools and confirms the importance on an international scale.

My question to the government: Is this government supporting Deline’s nomination?

Great Bear Lake Watershed Management Plan
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link Concerns
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. My observation is that our current government prides itself on thinking big but often forgets its duty to also think small. All too regularly our small communities are an afterthought when this government plans its big projects such as the Mackenzie Valley fibre optic line. My colleagues across the floor sold this 80-some million dollar project to me and other Members partly on the benefit it would bring to the small communities along the route such as Wrigley. There were promises that a fibre optic line would serve those communities with faster and cheaper Internet, better service and health centre and better learning in our schools. Yet, even as this line is being dug into the ground in the Mackenzie Valley, the government has not publicly laid out its plan for small communities along the route. I haven’t heard about any construction opportunities for them either.

Communities in my riding are concerned about this lack of planning and communication, in particular Wrigley. It’s a sensitive matter. I suggest the government be proactive. In April, Wrigley’s leadership announced withdrawal of their support for the fibre optic line. Land claim issues and lack of progress on the Dehcho Process are big factors in that, but it is a much easier decision to pull support when the government does not see the benefits of this fibre optic project.

Of course, “big picture” interests do see the benefits: the European space industry, federal government departments, big companies like Ledcor, which is building the line, and NorthwesTel. I would like to see some small thinking and see it very soon.

Let’s see some business opportunities and jobs in the small communities along the route of the fibre optic line. Let’s see the details on how the line will serve our health centres, schools, local governments, businesses and homes. Think small.

Like Highway No. 7, this will be my next favourite two words to this government: think small. The result might be bigger than they think. Thank you very much.

Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link Concerns
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Blake.

Premier’s Award Recipients
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier mentioned that this morning we had a number of awards here at the Legislative Assembly today. Of those recognized of the single window service centres, I have three constituents out of those 22 people. Ms. Shandel McLeod, Ms. Diane Koe and Mrs. Maureen Cardinal-Clark were the three GSOs who we have in our communities.

They do a lot of work on our behalf, going visiting elders and people who cannot come out to the offices. They’re a great help to our communities and I hope that as we move forward that this program continues. Thank you.

Premier’s Award Recipients
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Public Housing Needs
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To my surprise when I opened up page 3 of the Yellowknifer today, I saw and I counted 194 families still in need of some type of shelter.

What it is, is a cry to this government for more housing, more emergency shelters, more transitional space. These shouldn’t be numbers that anyone should be proud of. This government itself should be hanging its head in shame.

Last year the government built just over one house per 33 communities. The actual stat was 1.15, when you do the math. This government has allowed 19 percent of the NWT houses to still have core need. The poverty list isn’t getting any shorter. It continues to go unaddressed, and while housing solutions are being ignored by the lackluster investment, we only have no further to look to either the McLeod government or to the Minister R.C. McLeod and start to wonder where they are fighting at the Cabinet table for more money in housing.

There has never been a session that has gone by that I have not heard “we need more housing.” There is not a week that doesn’t go by when I hear from somebody in our community that needs more housing in Yellowknife, and I know that cry is equal, if not worse, in the smaller communities. People need housing solutions.

I never hear about how people are fighting at the Cabinet table about let’s find more money for housing. I just hear about nothing else at all. As a matter of fact, the fact is that they’re all worried about their own little projects. I wish somebody would take housing on as their individual project and become the champion of it.

So, what we see and what we hear is the defence of the status quo. We hear how CMHC, oh boo hoo, no more money. Well, the fact is I’m sick and tired of hearing that. Why don’t we find new solutions? If we keep blaming CMHC, eventually we’re not going to have anyone to blame but ourselves. Well, I certainly hope that we get to that solution a lot faster.

Better yet, if we wanted to do something, this government could show some real brass leadership by leaning forward and saying, “We’re going to build 20 new homes in every community. Now, we don’t need the money immediately, but we could come up with a plan.” Plans such as it would create a jobs boom; we could re-orientate some of our income support money; we could re-orientate some of our housing money; and there are a lot of other types of ways. We could challenge the private sector to say, “We need 20 new units in that community. How can you step up to the challenge?” Money wouldn’t be needed immediately, but it would be over a trend of a couple years as we did payments.

As my time runs out, I certainly hope the enthusiasm of this government doesn’t run out on this problem. Thank you.