This is page numbers 4183 - 4214 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 work.

Topics

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

Page 4183

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Minister of Health. Earlier, I mentioned the challenges faced by residents of Hay River who want to access mental healthcare. Long waits and difficulty booking appointments at the medical clinic are a common topic of discussion in Hay River; however, difficulty accessing mental healthcare in Hay River is not something people talk about as openly, because there is still a stigma surrounding it. However, I assure you that accessing treatment is a problem in Hay River, and a serious one. I have brought it up in this House before. I brought it up in committee, and I brought it up directly to the Minister of Health.

In 2016, the Department of Health released a Mental Healthcare Action Plan, followed by the Mental Health Strategic Framework, followed by the Child and Youth Mental Wellness Action Plan. As a result of these initiatives, I would like to ask the Minister: how has the GNWT improved access to mental health services, and the services themselves, in Hay River? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the department, the authority, the territorial authority, as well as the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, have been listening to the Member, as well as to the residents of Hay River. I have confirmation that Hay River Health and Social Services continues to strive to improve the counselling services that they currently have. Right now, I can confirm that they have five full-time resident counsellors in place in Hay River. As of today, there is an approximate wait time of about eight weeks, which is quite a bit; however, there are no wait times for addictions counselling. The length of time on a wait list varies throughout the year. Factors that influence the wait times could include vacancies in the positions, urgency of the clients, matching client needs with the specialization of some of our staff.

As a note, Mr. Speaker, there are two scheduled emergency appointments per day, five days a week, for those clients who need emergency services in Hay River.

On top of that, Mr. Speaker, Hay River Health and Social Services ran an applied suicide intervention skills training course in Hay River from the 14th to 15th of February. They ran a mental health first aid program earlier in December; they are planning another one in August. This is an important tool that we can use to help educate residents and help them be informed, help break down the stigma that exists around mental health. I strongly encourage the Member to take it and to share all the information in that mental health first aid program with his constituents.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, we are moving forward with the Youth Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, which contemplates creating 49 new positions throughout the Northwest Territories. Hay River is part of that plan. Granted, it's towards the end of the four-year rollout, but it is part of that plan.

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

I appreciate that answer. It's quite detailed. The Minister mentioned there's an eight-week waiting list, but then, once people get into counselling, it's still only once a month, maybe once every few weeks, which I believe is inadequate for most people. The Minister mentioned the child and youth mental health counsellors that will be put into schools. There are still some uncertainties surrounding that, how it's going to roll out in Hay River. Some of the questions are: when will we see this? How many counsellors will there be? Who will they work for, the authority or the health department? Where will they be located in the summer, et cetera? Could the Minister please provide some detail on this?

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, with respect to the plan, the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority will have four child and youth care counsellor positions, as well as one clinical supervisor. As the plan indicates, that won't be rolling out until 2021-2022, which is a ways off.

The counsellors will be employees of the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, unless we have made progress to bring them into the authority, at which point they will be employees of the GNWT. The team that's been working on this has developed a job description for the travelling youth care counsellor positions, and I spoke to that earlier this week with the Minister from Nahendeh.

The goal is to find the right people, Mr. Speaker. The goal is to find the right people for the job, with the right mix of skills, competencies, to meet the needs that the youth are identifying, and to meet the requests of the youth to have really qualified people providing these supports. As we implement these positions, Mr. Speaker, across the Northwest Territories and we learn what's working and what's not working, this may change, and we may be able to evolve and continue to strengthen this model as we go.

I know the Member was concerned about registration with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. It's not a requirement for the travelling youth counsellors, and I understand that it hasn't actually been an issue with hiring people in Hay River, but, if the Member has an alternate opinion or information that I need to know, I'm happy to listen.

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

I provided the Minister with an email earlier with more detail than I asked in the oral questions, so that's where that came from, but I appreciate the answer. Like all things health, the fact that the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority is outside of the Territorial authority affects the GNWTs ability to provide quality mental health care services to the residents in Hay River. I'd like to ask the Minister: with those commitments made in this House to get the ball rolling on getting the health authority in Hay River into the territorial authority, what progress has been made to that end?

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

I agree with what the Member is saying. We need to bring the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority into the territorial authority so we can provide comprehensive, seamless services to residents of Hay River, Enterprise, K'atlodeeche, and the surrounding areas. We need to be able to know that our residents, regardless of where they are coming from, whether it's from the Deh Cho or other regions, are receiving seamless services through a territorially funded health system.

We have been working with the Department of Finance to begin the discussions about what the ultimate costs will be for the pension transfer. We need to have that information before we can take our next steps, which would include negotiations and discussions with the Union of Northern Workers, because the employees in Hay River, although they are new NWT employees, they are under a separate collective agreement completely.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done. It is a mandate of this Assembly. I continue to push it at the Cabinet table, recognizing that there are significant long-term benefits of doing this from a client perspective, but, also, from a financial perspective, we wouldn't necessarily have to come forward every year with a top-up for the existing pension. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and further to my last question, I know it's complex, and I know that bringing the Hay River authority into the territorial authority probably won't happen until after these negotiations are complete. I was wondering, does the Minster have any sort of timeline that he thinks he could share with us about how long it would take to make this work well? Because I know it is a complex issue. Best case scenario, would it be five years? Would it be two years? Could the Minister give us a little bit of insight?

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could give the Member a concrete answer on this one. I really do. This is something we know we need to do, but the bottom line is I think getting the work done around the pension would probably take a couple of years to do that. Once we do that, then we have to begin our negotiations with the union, and frankly I cannot guesstimate or estimate how long the negotiations would take with the union. It is something we want to get done. It is something we are moving forward towards. As I learn more, I promise the Members from Hay River that I will certainly keep them in the loop and informed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 352-18(3): Mental Health care
Oral Questions

Page 4183

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Question 353-18(3): Tsiigehtchic Ferry Landing
Oral Questions

June 1st, 2018

Page 4183

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I brought this issue up a couple of days back, the ferry services for Tsiigehtchic. Mr. Speaker, the ferry started operating on Wednesday, but, as of this moment, residents in Tsiigehtchic still don't have service. I would like to ask the Minister: when will the ferries start taking traffic for the community of Tsiigehtchic? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 353-18(3): Tsiigehtchic Ferry Landing
Oral Questions

Page 4183

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Infrastructure.

Question 353-18(3): Tsiigehtchic Ferry Landing
Oral Questions

Page 4183

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to update the House on the Tsiigehtchic ferry service, as well. The Member is correct. We are currently servicing the Inuvik to McPherson route. We had staff out there yesterday, working on the ferry landing on the Tsiigehtchic side of things. They cleared off some ice. They moved some dried gravel down there to help with the landing, and the ferry tried last night to land there, and there were some issues around it. My understanding is, as of today's update that I've got on it, later today we are going try successfully, hopefully, to be able to service the community of Tsiigehtchic maybe tonight.