This is page numbers 4621 - 4676 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 communities.

Topics

Committee Motion 84-18(3): Committee Report 10-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of Bill 20: Ombudsperson Act - Investigations by the Ombud of Tlicho Community Services Agency, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 4668

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Chair, the Standing Committee on Government Operations is pleased to speak to Bill 20, the Ombud Act.

It began its consultations after the bill was given second reading. The committee wrote to invite input from a broad array of stakeholders and organizations in the Northwest Territories, such as municipal governments, chambers of commerce, non-governmental organizations, and professional societies. Committee also wrote to Indigenous governments in the NWT to seek their input, and in particular, to canvas their interest in accessing the services of the Ombud on a cost-sharing basis in a manner similar to that provided for the Yukon Ombudsman Act.

The committee held seven public hearings on Bill 20 in Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Resolution, Hay River, Behchoko, Ndilo, and Yellowknife. As well, committee received eight written submissions on the bill from the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, the Tlicho government and K'atlodeeche First Nation, former MLA Ms. Wendy Bisaro, Mr. Collin Baile, the NWT Seniors' Society, the NWT Branch of the Canadian Bar Association, and the City of Yellowknife.

On behalf of committee, I would to thank the communities who welcomed us on our travels and everyone who provided input on Bill 20.

The clause-by-clause review was held on October 25, 2018. At this meeting, committee moved 18 separate motions to amend Bill 20. Fifteen were carried with concurrence from the Minister, and three were defeated with no concurrence from the Minister.

Mr. Chair, the committee members intend to move some of these amendments in this Committee of the Whole clause-by-clause review. However, it has come to our attention that one of the amendments proposed during the committee's review to add a preamble to the bill is not in order with commonly accepted legislative process in rules and procedures. I will quote from Erskine and May, "If the bill is without a preamble [as it the case with Bill 20] the committee may not introduce one as an amendment." Therefore, one of the amendments that we were considering tonight will not be proceeded with, and the other amendments that were introduced at the committee stage will be brought forward by myself or other Members during this review.

With that, individual Members may have additional comment, but otherwise, I look forward to our debate on this important piece of legislation. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 84-18(3): Committee Report 10-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of Bill 20: Ombudsperson Act - Investigations by the Ombud of Tlicho Community Services Agency, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. I understand there are witnesses that the Minister would like brought into the Chamber. Sergeant-at-Arms, please escort the witnesses into the Chamber. Minister, you may take your seat at the table. Minister, would you please introduce your witnesses for the record.

Committee Motion 84-18(3): Committee Report 10-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of Bill 20: Ombudsperson Act - Investigations by the Ombud of Tlicho Community Services Agency, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 4669

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. To my left is Mike Reddy, legislative counsel; to my right is Charlene Doolittle, deputy secretary to Cabinet; and to her right is Allison Anderson, Cabinet policy advisor. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 84-18(3): Committee Report 10-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of Bill 20: Ombudsperson Act - Investigations by the Ombud of Tlicho Community Services Agency, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 4669

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you. Welcome to the witnesses. I will now open the floor to general comments on Bill 20. Seeing none, we will proceed to a clause-by-clause review of the bill. Does committee agree that we consider the clauses in groups?

Committee Motion 84-18(3): Committee Report 10-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of Bill 20: Ombudsperson Act - Investigations by the Ombud of Tlicho Community Services Agency, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Committee Motion 84-18(3): Committee Report 10-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of Bill 20: Ombudsperson Act - Investigations by the Ombud of Tlicho Community Services Agency, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, committee. We will defer the bill number entitlement until after consideration of the clauses. There are 46 clauses in the bill and one schedule. Please turn to page 5 of the bill. I will call out the clauses. If committee is in agreement, please respond accordingly.

---Clauses 1 through 14 inclusive approved

Committee Motion 84-18(3): Committee Report 10-18(3): Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of Bill 20: Ombudsperson Act - Investigations by the Ombud of Tlicho Community Services Agency, Carried
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Clause 15. Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 85-18(3): Bill 20: Ombud Act - Deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

October 31st, 2018

Page 4669

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Chair, I move that Bill 20 be amended by deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following:

15.(1) The mandate of the Ombud is to investigate any decision, recommendation made, or any act done or omitted, by an authority or by any officer, employee, or member of an authority, in the exercise of any power or duty conferred on that person or body by any enactment, that

(a) relates to a matter of administration or the implementation of a policy; and

(b) aggrieves or may aggrieve any person or body of persons in the person's or its personal capacity.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 85-18(3): Bill 20: Ombud Act - Deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. There is a motion on the floor. The motion has been distributed and is in order. To the motion, Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 85-18(3): Bill 20: Ombud Act - Deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 4669

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, the Standing Committee on Government Operations developed this amendment based on its consultations and the feedback we received from the public that the mandate section of this bill was dense, overly legalistic, and difficult to understand. Standing committee set to work to make it more legible and to also clarify a concern that was also raised by the public that government policy was not explicitly referenced in the act itself, whereas it is a long-standing component of what an Ombud can do in the execution of their duties. So this amendment makes the mandate of the Ombud more readable, it clarifies the roles, powers, and duties of the Ombud, and we believe strongly as a committee that this was the right way to improve the bill. The committee passed this amendment; it was not concurred with by the Minister, so we bring it forward to the attention of the Committee of the Whole in this setting now, and I would ask that my colleagues support it for the reasons I've stated. Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 85-18(3): Bill 20: Ombud Act - Deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. To the motion, Mr. O'Reilly.

Committee Motion 85-18(3): Bill 20: Ombud Act - Deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I, too, will support this. I think it helps clarify the mandate of the Ombud. I also wanted to say that this issue was brought to the attention of the committee by more than one presenter. I attended the public hearing that was held here in Yellowknife, and I did review the submissions, so this is responding to the public comments that were received by the committee, as well. For the average person reading this, I think this will help clarify the understanding that they can take away from this bill. I urge everyone to separate this. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 85-18(3): Bill 20: Ombud Act - Deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 4669

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you. Minister Sebert.

Committee Motion 85-18(3): Bill 20: Ombud Act - Deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 4669

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Yes, thank you, Mr. Chair. I do appreciate the work that the committee has done with respect to this motion. However, we cannot support it for the reasons that I'll now provide.

Like Ombud legislation across Canada, subsection 15(1) currently provides that the Ombud's mandate is to investigate any decision or recommendation made or any other act done or not done by government that relates to a matter of administration. Although a matter of administration is not defined in the act, or in other Ombud legislation, a matter of administration could include any practice, procedure, action, or decision that government makes, as it implements or administers its laws and policies.

The court has defined it as conduct engaged in by governmental authorities in furtherance of government policy. However, the motion proposed to amend section 15(1) to provide that the mandate of the Ombud is to investigate any decision or recommendation made or any act done or not done by the government that relates to a matter of administration or, or the implementation of a policy. That gives us some problem. Although the intention of Motion 5 may be to clarify the meaning of a matter of administration, we do not believe this motion accomplishes this by the right number.

For one, we are concerned that the inclusion of this additional phrase will confuse rather than clarify the Ombud's jurisdiction because a decision, recommendation, action, or omission made while implementing policies is an example of a matter of an administration. However, the motion as written, a decision, recommendation, action, or omission that relates to the implementation of a policy is not presented as an example of a matter of administration, but set as an alternative to a matter of administration.

The use of the word "or" appears to indicate that the phrase "implementation of a policy" is something different than a matter of administration. This means consideration must be given to the meaning of the term "policy" in the motion.

An Ombud is supposed to have jurisdiction in relation to administrative matters only, not political decision-making. Our concern is that the addition of the phrase "the implementation of a policy" may have the effect of expanding the Ombud's jurisdiction to include investigation of decision, recommendation, actions, or omissions made or taken in the implementation of public policy decisions.

For those reasons, we do not feel that we can support this motion. Cabinet will be opposing this motion. I'm sorry if I've misidentified it by number. Thank you.

Committee Motion 85-18(3): Bill 20: Ombud Act - Deleting subclause 15(1) and substituting the following, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Minister. To the motion.