This is page numbers 4473 - 4520 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 going.

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 10:00 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good morning, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 116-18(3): Government Response to the Aurora College Foundational Review
Ministers' Statements

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Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, later today, I will table the Government Response to the Findings and Recommendations of the Aurora College Foundational Review marking an end of a year-long review process.

This review has provided an opportunity to step back and evaluate where we are today and where we need to be in the future. Post-secondary education is essential to the growth and prosperity of our territory, and Aurora College continues to play a critical role in providing residents with options for obtaining that education in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, in order to better meet student needs and changing labour market demands, it has been determined that Aurora College requires significant change.

I am pleased to announce that the government will soon begin the process of transforming Aurora College into a polytech university. A polytech university combines the practical approach of a college education and the depth of study associated with a university program. Polytech programs are hands-on and technology-based, providing students with practical training for in-demand jobs.

The new institution would continue to focus mainly on applied and technical programs, as has been the case with Aurora College in the past, but with a wider range of qualifications available to students. At polytech institutions, students have the opportunity to bridge certificate and diploma credentials into bachelor's degrees, allowing for a great deal of flexibility within a defined range of academic programs.

At the same time, we have not forgotten the urgent need for more immediate incremental changes to Aurora College. We must strengthen the foundations of Aurora College as we prepare for transformational change in order to ensure the institution remains effective, efficient, and sustainable, and that it meets the needs of students and industry, both now and into the future.

As the Minister responsible, I am accountable for Aurora College and overseeing the transformation process. We have begun forging a new path forward, and I remain committed to ensuring we achieve greater public transparency and accountability at Aurora College throughout the transformation period and at the new polytechnic university moving forward. Decisions must be properly informed and follow national best practices.

An overarching priority of the transformation will also be to maintain a strong institution with three vibrant campuses, each with quality programs that are sustainable and that use and build on the assets of the communities where they are located. We will also be strengthening our 21 Community Learning Centres. The Community Learning Centres will continue to be a vital part of the institution moving forward.

I remain committed to preparing the new institution to function at arm's length from government as was universally supported by stakeholders. Such autonomy is a defining "best practice" of public post-secondary institutions in Canada. Achieving this requires a necessary balance as the right mix of public accountability and operational independence is essential to the institutions long-term success.

Mr. Speaker, I will be working with the new associate deputy minister to guide the college's transformation into a polytechnic university. One of the first steps will include developing an overall vision for post-secondary education in the North and bringing forward the legislation to make it a reality.

Rather than starting from scratch, we will build on existing Aurora College infrastructure, programming, and human resources. This will allow for a fiscally responsible rate of growth.

The review report included 67 recommendations, and the government response either partially or fully accepted all 67 of them. Some of the key commitments include:

  • the hiring of an associate deputy minister for Post-secondary Education Renewal;
  • development of a vision for post-secondary education in the Northwest Territories;
  • establishing an advisory committee and an academic advisory council to ensure the college continues to function well during a successful transformation; and
  • developing an implementation plan to guide the transformation of Aurora College into a polytechnic university.

We also remain on track to implement a new legislative framework during the life of this Assembly to govern post-secondary education. The primary objective of this new legislation will be to create a process of recognition that ensures the effective governance and quality assurance of post-secondary institutions and their programs.

During the life of this Assembly, we will have achieved a great deal in regard to post-secondary education and are embarking on a new and exciting path forward. There is still a great deal of work ahead, but when the 18th Legislative Assembly concludes next year, I believe we can all say with confidence that we have done more to advance post-secondary education than any previous Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I am excited by the path ahead for Aurora College and the opportunities a polytechnic university will provide to our residents, communities, industry, and economy in the Northwest Territories. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 116-18(3): Government Response to the Aurora College Foundational Review
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

Minister's Statement 117-18(3): 2018 Wildland Fire Season
Ministers' Statements

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, 2018 fire season was well below average for the Northwest Territories. A total of 56 fires were reported, affecting 13,222 hectares. In comparison, there were 249 fires and just over 860,000 hectares burned in 2017. The 25-year average is 231 fires and about 686,000 hectares burned each fire season.

As a government, it is important for us to be able to provide assistance to other Canadian jurisdictions, as many of them have helped us during previous wildland fire seasons. The relatively inactive fire season allowed Northwest Territories personnel and resources to be exported to assist with wildland fire response in other jurisdictions facing extensive wildland fires.

A total of 76 Type-1 firefighters, 19 overhead staff and three air tanker groups were sent to British Columbia, Ontario, Alberta, Yukon, Saskatchewan, and various national parks throughout the fire season.

Crews that remained in the territory this summer carried out important wildland fire management, maintenance, and FireSmart activities. They cleared brush, cleaned up fire breaks, managed overgrown vegetation, and constructed helipads to ensure future protection of our communities and infrastructure.

Within the South Slave region, the communities of Fort Smith, Hay River and Fort Providence benefit from clearing and brushing activities concentrated in both the communities and along highways and around fire towers. In and around the community of Fort Simpson, fire crews continued FireSmart work around the Wild Rose subdivision, clearing and removing trees. They also did brush and tree removal in the Fort Simpson Campground and widened the community wood lot access road, so that residents can have better access to fire wood.

Within the Sahtu communities of Deline, Tulita, and Fort Good Hope, work primarily concentrated on improving existing community fuel breaks by making them wider and clearing brush.

In Fort McPherson, the crew completed five helipads near water sources along the fuel breaks near the community. In Tsiigehtchic and Inuvik, fire crews concentrated on improving the areas around weather stations, radio towers, and various patrol and fire bases.

In the North Slave region, in addition to completing a number of FireSmart activities, the Department held a FireSmart workshop at Pontoon Lake that was well attended and received by the public.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud of the integrity and hard work shown by our wildland fire personnel this fire season, both at home and while assisting other jurisdictions.

Environment and Natural Resources fire crews continue to provide professional service to our residents and as representatives of our government while serving elsewhere.

The Government of Northwest Territories continues to work with communities on risk assessment and hazard mitigation to identify priority areas for protection planning in the face of possible wildland fire. Earlier this year, we saw the Hamlet of Enterprise become the first certified FireSmart community in the Northwest Territories. We hope the example they have set as leaders in community protection will be a model for forested communities across the territory.

Taking FireSmart actions continues to be the most important and effective way residents can protect their values at risk from wildland fires. It is everyone's responsibility to FireSmart their home and cabin and to promote the FireSmart program in their community.

This winter, we are asking those heading out to their cabins to take time to FireSmart their property. Clearing vegetation around the cabin by cutting firewood close to home and keeping the area around the cabin free of combustible materials can go a long way in protecting from wildland fire.

Mr. Speaker, this season, only three fires are suspected to have been person-caused. I would like to thank the majority of our residents for remembering to choose secure locations to make fires for cooking and keeping warm, and for making sure those fires were out before leaving. I would also like to recognize the work of our staff in getting vital messaging in fire prevention out to our communities.

As is our usual practice, Fire Operations has debriefed with headquarters and the regions on how the season went during our annual fall fire managers meeting in Fort Smith last month. The meeting was an important opportunity to share lessons learned, report on the season, and develop winter work plans. In the spring, we will hold our annual pre-season meeting to ensure we are properly prepared for the upcoming fire season.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all our fire personnel. From the fire crews out on the fire line, to our radio operators, the air attack officers, to those doing logistics and planning, and to everyone who worked hard this summer to protect both our residents and our neighbours to the south. Your commitment and efforts are appreciated. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 117-18(3): 2018 Wildland Fire Season
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Expansion of Ecole Allain St-Cyr
Members' Statements

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. [English translation not provided.] Merci, Monsieur le President.

Expansion of Ecole Allain St-Cyr
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Energy Efficient Homes in the Sahtu Region
Members' Statements

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Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we are seeing positive results from the SIP panel models in the energy-efficient homes recently seen in four Sahtu communities.

Mr. Speaker, this model can prove and is seeing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and support our local manufacturing industry.

The four units, as mentioned, in the Sahtu have seen fuel reduction in the neighbourhood of 30 percent. These cost savings are then passed on to the tenants, a truly win-win example of innovation. Later I will have questions for the appropriate Minister. Mahsi.

Energy Efficient Homes in the Sahtu Region
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

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

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I, like many Members of this House were shocked by the findings of the Auditor General's full audit of Health and Social Services' child and family services work. Not merely as a legislator as I'm concerned by this clear lack of oversight on the part of the Minister, I'm appalled as a parent.

Mr. Speaker, Members on this side of the House will do their work with both the Auditor General and departmental officials when we conduct our formal review of this report. However, I am concerned about the accountability of the Minister of Health and Social Services on this matter.

The government clearly has blatant disregard for the well-being of children in the Northwest Territories. How such failures of oversight by the Minister could be overlooked, not just for four years but a continued passing of the buck arguably since 1998.

In 2000, the Child Welfare League of Canada recommended the development of case-load standards, which is still incomplete. After the 2014 audit, the league was commissioned to do workload management study to help identify what resources were required to deliver child and family services. Still, Mr. Speaker, the Minister has failed to act on these recommendations. The work is still not finished.

We know the department officials were only tasked to assess their financial and human resources needs towards the end of the 2018 audit period. The Minister cannot pass the buck to his senior administrative staff, as they are newer to this portfolio than he is.

The auditors were informed that departmental officials had focused their efforts on implementing the structured decision-making system as their top priority in order to address the concerns of the previous audit, and it comes with little surprise that most of the frontline workers who met with the auditors informed them that they had not received sufficient training to support them in using these tools.

To clarify, Mr. Speaker, in 2000, recommendations were put forward, and then ignored. In 2014, an audit was conducted by the OAG and was ignored. The same year, another audit was conducted by the league, and that was ignored. We are now in 2018, and this new Auditor General candid report in hand cannot be ignored, Mr. Speaker. I will have questions for the Minister on his accountability on this file. Thank you, Mr. Speaker

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

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Passing of Glenda Comeau
Members' Statements

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to pay tribute to Glenda Comeau. She was born on May 1, 1951, in Ontario.

Glenda dedicated her career in the NWT to serve the RCMP. For the past 15 years, Glenda, as a public servant, was the first point of contact for many people coming into the Fort Simpson RCMP detachment. Regardless of the reason for needing the RCMP, Glenda was always kind, courteous, and professional.

Glenda's true commitment, however, was to the members. She went above and beyond the requirements of her position to ensure that the members were well taken care of. Officers who were posted to the Fort Simpson detachment were often pleasantly surprised to discover that she had gotten them all of the accessories that made it easier to do their jobs. She also made sure, to the delight of many, that the staff room was always well-stocked with snacks. In many ways, Glenda considered the members to be her children and acted like a mother figure for them.

Born and raised in Ontario, Glenda was working at a hotel in High Level, Alberta, as a receptionist when she answered a newspaper job posting for public servants for the RCMP. She started her career in the Inuvik detachment, where she spent five years.

In 2002, Glenda moved to Fort Simpson to fulfill the public servant position with the village detachment. Glenda was recognized many times during her career for her dedication and professionalism, including in 2007, when she received the Commanding Officer's Certificate of Appreciation. Prior to her retirement last year, Glenda was presented with a Long Service Certificate recognizing 20 years of dedicated service to the Government of Canada, as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Certificate of Northern Services, which is awarded to recognize service in the NWT.

Although she had planned to spend her retirement in Ontario, Glenda found that she couldn't leave the North. After a few months in the South, she returned to Fort Simpson. Glenda passed away in the village on July 6, 2008. A memorial service, attended by her friends and some RCMP members that she had worked with over the years, was held in Fort Simpson on August 2nd. Glenda's professionalism and dedication to supporting the RCMP will be sadly missed by many.

Mr. Speaker, I have known Glenda since she moved to Fort Simpson, and like others, I will miss her smiling face, wise words of advice, and her humour. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Passing of Glenda Comeau
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Our condolences to the family as well. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.