This is page numbers 4435 - 4472 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd 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

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Green, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. McNeely, Hon. Alfred Moses, Mr. Nakimayak, Mr. O'Reilly, Hon. Louis Sebert, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4435

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 113-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories 2018 Employee Campaign for United Way NWT
Ministers' Statements

Page 4435

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, the employees of the Government of the Northwest Territories are dedicated to the work that they do and are committed to the success of their communities. Hundreds of employees spend countless hours giving back to their communities through volunteer work during their personal time.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this moment to recognize all of the employees who volunteer in their communities. How we take care of one another is what shapes the character of our communities and what makes the North unique and special.

In addition to their volunteer time, every year, employees have the option to have donations for United Way NWT automatically deducted from their paycheques. Last year, employees contributed $150,000 to the United Way NWT through this campaign, which I am honoured to co-chair with the Union of Northern Workers president, Mr. Todd Parsons.

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow marks the start of the 2018 United Way NWT Employee Giving Campaign. The United Way NWT is a not-for-profit organization committed to building strong and healthy northern communities. Its role is to match community resources through these payroll contributions and to help get those funds to our territory's areas of greatest need.

In many ways, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the United Way NWT share the same goals: we want to improve the lives of our people, build stronger communities, and create positive social change for the residents of our territory. The United Way NWT ensures that employee contributions stay in the territory and contribute directly to our residents and communities.

Every day, employees work to build a better territory. They show this commitment in their work, but also in their generosity through our workplace campaign. Through the employee payroll plan, employees, including myself and many of the people in this room, are doing their part to create caring communities by contributing to the United Way NWT and to the organizations that they support.

Some of the organizations who have benefitted from contributions from employees include the Inuvik Youth Centre, Dene Nahjo, the Hay River Soup Kitchen, the Rainbow Coalition, NWT Breast Health, Children's First Society, and the list goes on.

Mr. Speaker, to put the power of this collective effort into context, one employee's payroll contributions of 50 cents per workday was able to feed over 50 people at the Hay River Soup Kitchen in one month. A $2 per workday contribution of another employee allowed Yellowknife Cares to create weekend meal kits for 30 children in need.

Investing in the health and well-being of our people and communities and building prosperity in the Northwest Territories are priorities of the United Way NWT and the mandate of this government. These goals are shared by many non-governmental organizations in our territory and by our employees. United Way NWT is working to achieve these goals through investment in three areas of focus, which are:

  • From poverty to possibility;
  • Healthy people, strong communities; and
  • All that kids can be.

Next year, the United Way NWT is investing $170,000 to support non-profits in our territory to improve lives and build community in these three areas.

Mr. Speaker, I comment the efforts of United Way NWT and their board and volunteers for all their hard work as they continue to make a positive impact on the lives of many of our residents in need. Furthermore, I would like to thank the Government of the Northwest Territories employees for their continued generosity which is making it possible for the United Way NWT and our communities to achieve great success. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 113-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories 2018 Employee Campaign for United Way NWT
Ministers' Statements

Page 4436

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 114-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Disability Action Plan 2018-2019 to 2021-2022
Ministers' Statements

Page 4436

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories made a commitment in its mandate to ensure the effective supports and programs were available for persons with disabilities. Our government believes that every person living with a disability has the full right to citizenship and opportunity which is why we have been working with our partners and stakeholders to advance plans that will effectively guide our efforts to support this goal.

In March 2016, our government initiated the Disability Program Review and Renewal Project to look at the status of current services and identify gaps and opportunities for improvements through the development of a new strategic framework, programs, and services inventory and action plan.

Mr. Speaker, in February 2018, we released the Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion, and Participation: NWT Disability Strategic Framework: 2017 to 2027, Disability Matters: A Companion to the NWT Disability Strategic Framework, and the GNWT Programs and Services for Persons with Disabilities Inventory.

Our action plan, which will be tabled later today, builds on the priorities established within the NWT Disability Strategic Framework to ensure our work supports outcomes that are person and family centred; supports inclusion and accessibility; promotes and supports awareness, education and training; and ensures timely coordination, evaluation and reporting.

The action plan represents a shared vision and partnership between the Departments of Health and Social Services; Education, Culture and Employment; Justice; Finance; Municipal and Community Affairs; Infrastructure; and the NWT Housing Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, this work was guided by the results of extensive engagement with our non-government organization partners in the disability sector. Our partners provided valuable input as to what is needed to support persons with disabilities and their families. We will continue to engage with them to ensure that our actions are meeting their intended outcomes for persons with disabilities.

We know that there is a growing demand on disability services, driven by an increased incidence of physical and cognitive disabilities, a growing seniors' population, increased rates of disability associated with aging, and the need for caregiver supports.

We want to improve the lives of NWT residents with disabilities by focusing on five objectives: increasing income security and reducing poverty, building awareness and knowledge through education and training, improving transition planning and options, encouraging universal design and living options, and improving access and quality of caregiver supports.

The action plan will help our government pursue new avenues and resources available to promote more equity, accessibility, and inclusion and help us support the participation in all aspects of economic and social life of persons with disabilities in the NWT.

We will be accountable to persons with disabilities and all residents on the progress on this action plan. Each department will report on the status of their action items, and the Department of Health and Social Services will coordinate and monitor the reporting of the individual actions within it.

I want to thank all of my colleagues and their department staff for supporting our government-wide approach to improving services and programs for persons with disabilities. I also want to thank our disability NGO partners, including the NWT Disabilities Council, Yellowknife Association for Community Living, the NWT Seniors' Society, Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities, and the NWT Foster Family Coalition for their input and their support. It will require that we all continue to work together in order to deliver on action items.

We are looking forward to implementing the GNWT Disability Action Plan, which will guide the work required to advance our vision to make the NWT an inclusive and accessible territory.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 114-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Disability Action Plan 2018-2019 to 2021-2022
Ministers' Statements

Page 4437

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. The Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 115-18(3): Minister Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 4437

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the honourable Wally Schumann will be absent from the House for the remainder of this week to attend both the federal-provincial-territorial Ministers of internal trade and the federal-provincial-territorial Ministers of innovation and economic meetings in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 115-18(3): Minister Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 4437

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly - 2018: Independent Auditor's Report - Child and Family Services - Department of Health and Social Services and Health and Social Services Authorities
Members' Statements

Page 4437

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wept when the Office of the Auditor General reviewed its latest findings of the Child and Family Services audit. They concluded for the second time in four years that Child and Family Services is failing children in care; not just failing them, but sometimes putting them at risk of even greater harm than the circumstances that brought them into care in the first place. A child has been assaulted. Another was missing from a treatment program.

For example, health authorities must investigate a report of a child in a potentially unsafe situation within 30 days. The auditor found that a quarter of these investigations weren't completed on time. In a third of investigations, the required interview with parents, the child, and others with information didn't happen. In three-quarters of cases, long-term risks weren't assessed. All of these indicators have increased since the last audit four years ago.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that everyone involved in the lives of children in care wants them to be safe. The problem isn't intention; it's resources. The auditor found that the authorities are overburdened with changes that were not well resourced and which helped produce worse results. It is clear that the focus needs to be on the children themselves rather than on the systems that manage their circumstances.

A key recommendation in this audit is that the Department of Health and Social Services and the health authorities must perform a detailed assessment of the financial and human resources to deliver child and family services. The same recommendation was made four years ago and by Cindy Blackstock in her review of child and family services in 2009, and by the Child Welfare League of Canada 18 years ago. Until this work is done, we won't know why Yellowknife has twice as many child-protection workers as the Tlicho Community Services Agency when the size of their caseload is similar. The department's response to most of the recent recommendations focuses on things like team design and streamlining business processes. My fear is that children will again be pushed further to the margins while the department prioritizes its systems and ensures its liability is covered.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health and Social Services was a member of the standing committee that hired Ms. Blackstock, and he has been the Health Minister for seven years.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly - 2018: Independent Auditor's Report - Child and Family Services - Department of Health and Social Services and Health and Social Services Authorities
Members' Statements

Page 4437

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mr. Speaker, that means the Minister has heard this call to identify the resources needed to provide these services at least three times, and the problems not only persist, they are getting worse. The children who needed his help nine years ago are now adults or well on their way. It's worth remembering that these children, all children, have but one childhood. Our priority must be to help children not only survive it, but to thrive in safe and supportive environments. Mahsi.

Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly - 2018: Independent Auditor's Report - Child and Family Services - Department of Health and Social Services and Health and Social Services Authorities
Members' Statements

Page 4437

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Northwest Territories Carbon Pricing
Members' Statements

Page 4437

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says we are already seeing the consequences of a 1-degree Celsius increase in global warming. There is more extreme weather and diminishing Arctic sea ice among other changes. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require "rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society." Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the report with more than 6,000 scientific references cited.

The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that we would need to take to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius are already underway around the world, but they need to accelerate. On May 24th, I urged the federal government to reject Cabinet's Climate Change Plan. This was based on the unrealistic 44 percent greenhouse gas reductions from the expansion of Taltson Hydro, the back-end loading of emission reductions, misdirection of efforts on electricity production, rather than motivating large, industrial emitters, and a failure to address the leadership deficiencies noted in the Auditor General's report on NWT climate change.

The Cabinet response to the committee review of this audit tabled earlier this sitting fails again to adopt any changes in accountability or authority to ensure that there's adequate climate change leadership. Cabinet's approach on climate change falls far short of how we need to respond to the IPCC imperative of far-reaching and unprecedented changes.

The Minister of Finance finally announced Cabinet's approach to carbon pricing in July. While individuals and families will get some of the carbon tax back through the adjustments to the cost of living allowance and child benefit, industry, the largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, can actually get all of the carbon tax back that they pay. It will be individuals, families, and small businesses that will subsidize the GNWT initiatives under the energy strategy, not the largest emitters which include the diamond mines. This hardly seems fair or balanced.

The Minister of Finance has been silent on the issue of how the carbon tax will be managed and accounted for. It's not clear whether the reporting will try to link carbon tax funds collected with investments into renewables and any reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

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

---Unanimous consent granted.

Northwest Territories Carbon Pricing
Members' Statements

Page 4438

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

A real carbon pricing system for the NWT can help us in fighting the climate change emergency that faces us.

We must pursue legislative and policy changes to ensure climate change leadership and an energy strategy built on renewables that doesn't masquerade as an infrastructure funding demand. As other regular Members have indicated, I cannot support Cabinet's Carbon Tax and Climate Change Plan. The federal government's back-stop approach on carbon pricing is starting to look a lot better. Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Northwest Territories Carbon Pricing
Members' Statements

Page 4438

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.