This is page numbers 5027 - 5084 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. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. McNeely, Hon. Alfred Moses, Mr. Nadli, Mr. Nakimayak, Mr. O'Reilly, Hon. Wally Schumann, Hon. Louis Sebert, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 5027

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Welcome back, everyone. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister's Statement 154-18(3): Continued Investment in Tourism
Ministers' Statements

Page 5027

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, our world-class tourism industry offers the greatest opportunity we have to grow and diversify our economy.

As we approach April 1st, the budget proposed for the next year fiscal year reflects this. It contains nearly $6.3 million in contributions and program funding to support our tourism industry, an increase of $800,000 from 2018-2019. It's a sign that this government recognizes the integral role tourism is playing in diversifying and modernizing our economy, and that we recognize our responsibility to move this sector to the next level.

Today I would like to share with Members some of the investments the Government of the Northwest Territories, led by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, has planned for the tourism sector. We will invest in training products which will build the skills of our tourism operators to better deliver the unforgettable visitor experiences that they offer. We will continue to invest in the development of new tourism products; community-level tourism infrastructure; and NWT Tourism, our destination marketer, whose mandate is to promote our spectacular territory across the country and around the globe.

These investments will build on the $1.55 million that was invested in tourism-related businesses and initiatives this year. They will build on the investments we have made in Indigenous tourism alongside CanNor and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. They will complement the ongoing work of regional tourism development officers who deliver our programs and provide support to operators, communities, and Indigenous governments.

Last month I was pleased to announce the fifth consecutive year of increases in overnight visitors at our territorial parks. In spite of a wet and cloudy summer, our world-class parks and campgrounds continue to shine as attractions for visitors and residents.

Mr. Speaker, I have recognized in this Legislative Assembly that the tourism growth that we are nurturing is going to come with growing pains. We are taking steps through this transition to ensure that, above everything else, our tourism sector is operating with a focus on safety.

Up-to-date safety plans are a prerequisite for tourism operator licenses. In the North Slave, we are piloting initiatives aimed at getting aurora tours off the main highway, and are working with our industry partners to increase visitor awareness to the potential risks of cold weather, un-frozen lakes, and interacting with wildlife.

We have also introduced a vehicle identification program in the North Slave for all tourism operators delivering vehicle tours. It is a pilot project that we hope will help us identify which operators are working within our licensing process and those who are not.

It should be noted that the Tourism 2020 Strategy is expiring, and we must build on its success with a new strategy. Our new Tourism 2025 Strategy will guide tourism investment by the Government of the Northwest Territories from fiscal years 2021-2022 to 2025-2026. Its creation will begin this fall, with a multi-platform consultation process that includes industry and a wide range of tourism stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker, we know that our economy will gain strength as it grows more diverse. As we continue to move forward, we can see that our strategies and approaches are working, and that our investments are paying off. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 154-18(3): Continued Investment in Tourism
Ministers' Statements

Page 5027

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Members, I would like to draw your attention to the gallery. I would like to welcome Mr. Jim Antoine, former Premier, former Minister, and the current chair of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Leadership Council.

---Applause

Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 155-18(3): Cultural Safety Action Plan
Ministers' Statements

Page 5027

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, the government is committed to addressing health inequities experienced by our residents. In October of last year I provided information on the Department of Health and Social Services' plans to move forward with our cultural safety and relationship-based care approach, and today I am pleased to advise that the 2018-2020 Caring for Our People: Cultural Safety Action Plan will be tabled later today.

Research shows that Indigenous peoples experience a disproportionate amount of negative health and social outcomes in comparison to non-Indigenous people. It is our responsibility as a government to address this inequity head-on, especially given the fact that over 50 percent of the NWT's population is Indigenous. This is why it is critical that we develop a two-year action plan that will see immediate steps taken to address the health outcome gaps to promote healthy living and communities in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, this action plan advances foundational work that began with the release of "Building a Culturally Respectful Health and Social Services System" in 2016.

Since the fall of 2017, the Department of Health and Social Services has held over 30 knowledge-sharing meetings with Indigenous and northern people to hear directly from them about their experiences, concerns, and aspirations for the NWT health and social services system. What we heard was that we need to transform our system so that it is rooted in relationships that are trusting, caring, and ongoing. The underlying theme in these meetings was the importance of cultural safety: an outcome where Indigenous peoples feel safe and respected, and free of racism and discrimination, when accessing health and social services.

Our action plan incorporates what we heard and provides direction on transforming the health and social services system through four objectives: creating an organizational culture of cultural safety; strengthening staff capacity for cultural safety; honouring traditional knowledge and healing approaches in care; and improving client and community experience.

Mr. Speaker, creating a health and social services system where cultural safety and relationship-based care is at the heart of everything we do requires a profound shift in how we operate and think about healthcare. It means that our health system will make it a priority to put the needs of our clients and their families first so that they feel safe and respected when accessing health and social programs and services. By making this shift, we hope to see improved access, patient experience, and health outcomes for all residents.

To ensure that we successfully implement our cultural safety action plan, we will be engaging with clients to identify whether their care has been culturally respectful; we will provide training to our staff so that they have the skills, knowledge, and behaviours to provide culturally safe care; and we will make sure that cultural safety is embedded throughout the NWT health and social services system, from policies to practice, and is supported by leadership throughout our organization.

Work is already under way for staff training, with three pilot training sessions held recently. The first and second pilot focused on bias and building relationships in the workforce, and the third focused on cultural competence. Feedback from participants will help us develop a cultural competency training package tailored to the cultural safety needs of NWT residents. The goal of the training package is to equip staff with the tools needed to identify and resolve hidden biases that they may have when interacting with their clients who are accessing services, programs, and support. We hope that this training, along with other actions we will take, will see attitudinal behaviours changes that can lead towards improved relationship-based care.

Throughout this process of firmly entrenching cultural safety in our health and social services system, we are committed to ensuring that the voices of Indigenous peoples are acknowledged, heard, and respected. To do this, we will increase awareness of client rights and responsibilities and develop mechanisms for feedback and complaints to support them on their care journey. We are already mapping out a system-wide client feedback process and quality assurance processes.

Mr. Speaker, another key component to embracing cultural safety is having a workforce that reflects the population that it serves. To further encourage our Indigenous residents to be practising members of our health and social services team, and to promote wellness throughout the territory, the department will be working with the Department of Finance, human resources section, as well as with Indigenous governments to encourage youth and individuals considering a different profession to get into the health and social services field.

To ensure that we are moving in the right direction, we will be monitoring progress. We are integrating data collection on cultural safety into existing monitoring plans, such as the patient experience questionnaire and community counselling program, to see how we are doing. This approach further reflects our approach to make cultural safety part of how we deliver programs and services throughout our system.

Mr. Speaker, taking action to improve the way that Indigenous residents access health and social services and creating a relationship-based care approach for all Northerners responds to multiple mandate commitments. More importantly, it is the right thing to do and helps us address our past, promotes reconciliation, and helps to build healthy, strong communities. By implementing what we heard, we can achieve our vision for a territory where Indigenous peoples, families, and communities enjoy physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health and wellness. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 155-18(3): Cultural Safety Action Plan
Ministers' Statements

Page 5028

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Minister's Statement 156-18(3): Seniors' Planning Study
Ministers' Statements

Page 5028

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to taking action so that seniors can age in place. We want to ensure that all seniors living within the Northwest Territories have the support and programs that they need to continue living in their own homes, if possible, and participate as full members in their community.

The number of seniors in our territory is growing at an extraordinary pace. While the population of the Northwest Territories has grown by one percent since 2004, the population of persons 60 years of age and older has grown by 53 percent. This trend is expected to continue well into the foreseeable future, compelling us to plan for how these changes will impact all of our systems.

Some housing efforts taken by this government to support seniors with their desire to age in place include the construction of seniors' independent eight-plex housing units in five communities: Aklavik, Fort Liard, Whati, Fort McPherson, and Fort Good Hope. A Seniors Aging-in-Place Retrofit Program was introduced, which helps make seniors' homes more durable and energy-efficient. The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation will soon introduce new multi-generational homeownership units in communities that will have a main-floor-accessible bedroom designed specifically for families that will be supporting an elder in their home.

These innovative initiatives are already making a difference. The Seniors Aging-in-Place Retrofit Program is now one of the most accessed programs that the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation offers. The magnitude of the issue, however, means that we need to continually explore and examine other solutions.

Mr. Speaker, to further inform our government, as well as other governments, private industry, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders and decision-makers, I requested that the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation commission the Seniors' Planning Study to examine options related to independent housing for seniors.

This Seniors' Planning Study is an assessment of seniors' housing in all of the communities in the Northwest Territories, including current and future needs. The report provides a detailed review of the current context of the senior population, households, and the housing market.

Mr. Speaker, this study is divided into two distinct phases. Phase One of the study focused on reviewing and identifying existing conditions and trends for seniors' housing in the two locations that show the greatest demand: the city of Yellowknife and the town of Hay River. Part of the methodology for these two communities was to conduct focus group discussions with key stakeholders. We have included the interim report for those two communities in the final Seniors' Planning Study document.

Phase Two of the study was conducted as a tabletop exercise focused on analyzing available statistics for seniors' population growth and household formation for all communities in the Northwest Territories. The analysis is at a regional and community scale and reviews opportunities and challenges around seniors' housing in our more remote and isolated areas.

The Seniors' Planning Study is broken down into five chapters. The first chapter on Regional Community Overview provides a breakdown of the seniors' profile in each region. Housing preferences, indicators, and affordability targets were developed based on existing statistical data. The second chapter on Future Projections looks at future population growth for seniors in the Northwest Territories. The third chapter on Community Engagement examines the engagement that was conducted with the City of Yellowknife and the Town of Hay River. The fourth chapter provides a cross-jurisdictional analysis on best practices and case studies around the growth of the senior population in regard to housing design, configuration, and senior support programs. The last elements of the Seniors' Planning Study are conclusions from the study, along with a list of options around the increasing demand for seniors' housing.

Key findings from this report indicate that the majority of the seniors aged 55 years or older own their home. However, there are communities across the Northwest Territories where a higher proportion of seniors are in rented homes. One of the key findings of the study was that we can now plan around an increase of approximately 165 senior households annually. The needs of this population are varied and will have to be addressed. Thankfully, we now have this study to help us plan for seniors' needs in each community.

This information will be factored into the work around the development of 33 community housing plans. Decision-makers at all levels will be able to use this information, as well as the broader context of a community housing plan, to inform their infrastructure and planning decisions, especially those communities that are taking a more active role in housing.

Mr. Speaker, seniors are one of our greatest cultural resources. They hold our histories, sustain our traditional languages and customs, and they have given so much to so many. We are committed to ensuring the health and well-being of our elders, and a crucial part of that is housing. With this study, we can improve on the good work already being done to ensure that seniors can remain well-housed in their communities and with their families and friends. Later today, at the appropriate time, I will table the Seniors' Planning Study. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 156-18(3): Seniors' Planning Study
Ministers' Statements

Page 5028

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Minister. Members, I would like to welcome a visitor in the gallery. A member of the NWT Honours Advisory Council and a fellow Hay Riverite, Ms. Sabrina Broadhead. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Teaching and Learning Indigenous Languages
Members' Statements

Page 5028

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

[Translation] Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This month is Deline language month. That is why I am going to make my statement in the Aboriginal language. Back in the old days, I am from Fort Resolution, people who lived around Fort Resolution, Little Buffalo River, Rocher River, the Slave River, Stony Point, people were living all over the place, and, when you are going from one camp to the other, everybody spoke Chippewan. Only Fort Resolution spoke English. Back in the days, when people were picked to go to school, we were living in Fort Resolution. I didn't speak English when I started school. I only spoke Chippewan. A lot of people were like that. Yes, we only spoke Chippewan language, and that is the way it was.

After we all went to school, we were taught the English language. We only spoke the Deline language, though. What I think now, the way we spoke our language, that is where we learned our language, at our home. Nowadays, they are teaching the kids in the school system, They are not really teaching the kids quite properly. What I think, if you want a really strong language, you've got to learn it at home. The ones who spoke the language, the Slavey, the Dogrib people, they learned at home. They taught the kids at home. That is the way the kids learned, and that is the proper way to do it.

I spoke Chipewyan. When I was going to speak English when I was in school, they had to give me somebody who spoke English so they could, kind of an interpreter. It was pretty hard for me when I first started school. That is the way it was in the old days.

So, when the kids are learning their language at home, everybody who is learning, they're writing to each other in their language now. Thank you. [Translation ends.]

Teaching and Learning Indigenous Languages
Members' Statements

Page 5028

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Learning the Dene Zhatie Language
Members' Statements

Page 5028

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. [No translation provided.] Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Learning the Dene Zhatie Language
Members' Statements

Page 5028

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Protecting Indigenous Languages
Members' Statements

Page 5028

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our territory is unique in the world in many ways. I am proud that we work in such a unique system of government. I am proud that we have developed the consensus system that reflects our originality. I am proud to sit in this Chamber with colleagues from a wide variety of heritages. I am proud that we live and work in a jurisdiction that recognizes 11 official languages. We are fortunate to have a number of healthy languages in our territory and to be able to hear them on the radio every day.

On many days, you can hear, like today, those languages in this very Chamber, Mr. Speaker. I really appreciate that this Assembly has emphasized the importance of using Indigenous languages in our proceedings, especially in the past few sessions.

However, I wonder how much longer this can continue, Mr. Speaker. Years ago, I remember that there was a strong effort to recruit and train Indigenous-language interpreters to provide translation of public discussion and debates. In this Chamber and at conferences and assemblies across the NWT, language systems and simultaneous translation were staples of public discourse.

Today, that level of commitment to language services seems to have diminished. Interpreters are fewer and fewer and harder to find. The strong emphasis on training for language expertise and simultaneous translation seems to be missing. It makes me wonder what is the future of our languages? More importantly, what will be the outcome for the children who are coming up now?

Strong work on language preservation is going on in some places. In particular, the Tlicho language is actively used among all ages. There is even a Tlicho dictionary online. This is the kind of commitment that's needed to maintain our languages for the next generations. Historically, there were hundreds of Indigenous languages spoken across what is now Canada, Mr. Speaker. Sadly, many of them have disappeared entirely and/or are now nearly extinct. It is sad that, if a language dies, a whole way of life may go with it.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud that in the Northwest Territories so many different languages remain active and healthy. I think it's important that we continue to emphasize the learning, use, and health of all of the languages of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Protecting Indigenous Languages
Members' Statements

Page 5029

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.