This is page numbers 5333 - 5364 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. Nadli, Mr. Nakimayak, Mr. O'Reilly, Hon. Wally Schumann, Hon. Louis Sebert, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne

The House met at 1:34 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 5333

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 168-18(3): Draft Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan
Ministers' Statements

Page 5333

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to provide Members with an update on the draft Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan. The quality improvement plan sets out actions that we are taking right now to address issues identified as part of internal reviews, the 2018 Auditor General's Report, and from staff feedback.

The quality improvement plan extends the work that was started under Building Stronger Families, and refocuses our efforts in those areas where it is needed the most. It reinforces what has already been achieved, ensures outstanding items are completed, and addresses additional gaps that were found.

The plan responds directly to the Auditor General's recommendation to develop a detailed action plan that clearly sets out how we will ensure that the child and family services system will operate in compliance with legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the plan contains key actions that will allow us to better manage, resource, and structure our system to ensure that significant changes achieved through the Building Stronger Families Action Plan can be sustained.

It identifies four strategic directions to improve the child and family services system, including:

  • Continuing to build a culture of quality;
  • Investing in human resources;
  • Building staff capacity; and
  • Engaging with our partners.

As part of the quality improvement plan, we have already taken important steps in each of these areas.

To meet the goal of the plan, the government has proposed a new investment of $3.3 million to add positions to support child and family services. We have already completed an initial caseload analysis and have started a territory-wide recruitment campaign for front-line staff.

We have also set up quality reviews for closed investigations, foster-care services, and minimum contact requirements. We have clarified roles and responsibilities for the out of territory program and have established a system to monitor the interprovincial placement agreements and courtesy supervision for out-of-territory placements.

Mr. Speaker, with the renewed focus of the quality improvement plan, we have also implemented a revised accountability framework and established a guardianship standard, tool, and checklist. We have established a training team and completed additional training for staff, supervisors, managers, and assistant directors. We've created a quality committee and working groups, implemented monthly staff teleconferences, and set up an assistant directors' forum.

Mr. Speaker, engagement is one of the strategic directions of the quality improvement plan. Working collaboratively with our partners and receiving ongoing feedback is crucial to ensure that we are moving in the right direction to improve the quality of child and family services and are supporting our staff and partners adequately through this process.

While our team continues to work on the priority areas of the quality improvement plan, over the coming months, we will work with key stakeholders to further refine the plan and receive valuable feedback on the implementation of specific actions. This is a living document, Mr. Speaker, and will change over time as actions are completed and new actions are identified as needing focused attention to be addressed.

For example, once publicly released, the Department of Health and Social Services will review carefully the recommendations made by the Standing Committee on Government Operations in relation to the Auditor's General's 2018 report, and these recommendations will inform revisions to the quality improvement plan and its implementation.

In addition, we have reached out to Indigenous governments to request a meeting with them to discuss their priorities and how we can work together to strengthen child and family services across the Northwest Territories. This feedback will also help shape the quality improvement plan and the implementation of specific action items.

Mr. Speaker, we remain committed to taking action to improve our child and family services system, and our number one priority will continue to be the well-being and safety of children and youth in our care. The Auditor General's report and our own internal audits have shown that there are areas that need focused and better-resourced attention to continue to build on the promise of Building Stronger Families. With our living quality improvement plan, we will continue to work with Members of the Legislative Assembly, child and family services staff, communities, Indigenous leaders, other partners, and the families we serve to make the changes we need for a stronger child and family services system. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 168-18(3): Draft Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan
Ministers' Statements

Page 5333

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Public Engagement and Transparency.

Minister's Statement 169-18(3): Progress on Transparency and Accountability Initiatives
Ministers' Statements

March 11th, 2019

Page 5333

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, in recognition of global Open Government Week, I would like to take this opportunity to update this House on our government's progress in advancing our mandate commitments for increasing government transparency and accountability.

One year ago, Mr. Speaker, I stood on this floor and announced the release of our government's Open Government Policy. The policy represented an important step towards fulfilling our government's pledge to greater openness and transparency.

Mr. Speaker, the Open Government Policy committed our government to develop directives and guidelines to improve the way we share information and data, and how we acquire and use feedback from residents from public engagements. All Ministers are accountable under the policy to ensure that their departments and agencies follow these directives and guidelines and to take further actions to increase openness and transparency.

Since the Open Government Policy was launched a year ago, an interdepartmental working group has worked to develop one of the major commitments of the Open Government Policy, a common approach to public engagement for our government. The approach has since been piloted within the government, and I am pleased to announce today that it has been launched to the public.

Engaging with the public on issues of importance and interest to them is vital to advancing the principles of open government, Mr. Speaker. This is why the common approach we have developed consists of a number of elements and resources, including:

  • A step-by-step guide for employees planning public engagement activities;
  • Updated web resources and a common online approach that provides a central listing of all public engagement opportunities; and
  • An advisory committee to build capacity and a community of practice among our government staff.

Mr. Speaker, I want to encourage all Members in this House and NWT residents to visit the Open Government website and learn more about the Government of the Northwest Territories' common approach to public engagement. It is my hope that residents will embrace this new approach to engagement with our government and will make their voices known through their participation.

Mr. Speaker, as we approach the end of the 18th Legislative Assembly, I am proud of the progress that our government has made to increase government accountability and transparency. While we recognize that improving the way we share data and information and engage with residents is an ongoing process, not a destination, our government remains committed to this process and to fulfilling our mandate commitments in this area. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 169-18(3): Progress on Transparency and Accountability Initiatives
Ministers' Statements

Page 5333

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Commonwealth Day 2019
Members' Statements

Page 5334

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today on the occasion of Commonwealth Day, the annual celebration of the Commonwealth of Nations, observed by roughly 2.4 billion people in 53 countries around the world, spread over every continent and ocean.

The day will be celebrated with a broad range of activities, including faith and civic gatherings, debates, school assemblies, flag raising ceremonies, street parties, cultural events, and a multicultural, multi-faith service at Westminster Abbey, where the head of the Commonwealth, the sovereign Her Majesty the Queen, will deliver an address that will be broadcast around the world.

The theme for 2019 is "A Connected Commonwealth," which offers opportunities for the people, governments, and institutions of this richly diverse family of nations to connect and work together at many levels through far-reaching and deep-rooted networks of friendship and goodwill.

This year also marks the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Commonwealth as we know it today. What was once held together by colonial rule has transformed into an international community of nations in free association, with old ties and new links enabling co-operation towards social, political, and economic development which is both inclusive and sustainable.

To quote the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland, "At this time, when multilateralism is under threat and we see nationalism and narrow self-interest on the rise, the Commonwealth shines as a beacon of hope and promise, inspiring confidence in the benefits of international cooperation and collective action."

Commonwealth Day serves as a reminder of the awesome responsibility we bear to each other as human beings and of the continuing importance of international cooperation and of the peaceful co-existence of nation-states, cultures, and peoples.

I would like to conclude with the encouraging words of Her Majesty the Queen, "We are able to look to the future with greater confidence and optimism as a result of the links that we share and thanks to the networks of cooperation and mutual support to which we contribute and on which we draw. With enduring commitment through times of great change, successive generations have demonstrated that, whilst the goodwill for which the Commonwealth is renowned may be intangible, its impact is very real."

Happy Commonwealth Day, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Commonwealth Day 2019
Members' Statements

Page 5334

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Support for Manufacturing
Members' Statements

Page 5334

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Mr. Speaker, last fall I, along with the Member from Hay River North and along with the Minister of ITI, was pleased to attend a policy discussion with the NWT Manufacturers' Association focusing on the development of a NWT manufacturing strategy. This is another one of our mandate commitments for this Assembly, and I was pleased to see that we are moving forward in this area.

In particular, I was pleased to see new energy and ideas being generated from members of the Manufacturers' Association. Giving credit where credit is due, I noted significant interest and responsiveness on behalf of the Department of ITI.

Mr. Speaker, manufacturers in the NWT face a number of challenges, factors that we are all familiar with. Like all of us, they face high energy costs. They face high costs of shipping that hit them twice; first, when they import raw materials, and then again when they try to market finished products.

Recruiting, training, and keeping qualified staff is another challenge. Finding skilled tradespeople is not always easy, but is important when compared to the demands of training and supervising unskilled labour.

Then, when a product is complete, who do they sell it to? Our territory offers a small market for the purchase of manufactured goods. Online selling is a good way to reach a wider market, but then, to send their product elsewhere, they are faced with the shipping costs again.

Facing these challenges, it may seem a difficult task to get a manufacturing initiative off the ground, and certainly it will be. Energy, commitment, and initiative will be needed, but there are ways in which the government can help alleviate those pressures, Mr. Speaker:

  • We can support partnerships among manufacturers to achieve economies of scale.
  • We can design training and apprenticeship programs to help workers find and match a skilled workforce with demand from employers.
  • We can support research and innovation to reward new, made-in-the-North ideas and practices.
  • We can assist with marketing to help manufacturers develop new markets for their products.

Mr. Speaker, our greatest strength is the imagination, creativity, and resourcefulness of the people of the North. We can provide them with backing and resources to develop home-grown ideas and support this untapped sector to flourish and grow. Later, Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of ITI. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Support for Manufacturing
Members' Statements

Page 5334

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Indigenous Cultural Gala 2019
Members' Statements

Page 5334

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about an event that occurred this past Friday evening in the community of Detah, which was the Indigenous Cultural Gala that is being held to honour the grand opening of an Artisan Shop, within the Chief Drygeese Hall of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

Mr. Speaker, this event truly showcased northern art and creativity at its best. It featured a fashion show, which provided an opportunity for northern artists to collaborate and exhibit their homemade and handcrafted items on a runway. There were creations of all sorts, Mr. Speaker, from traditional vests to handmade earrings and necklaces. This event was an excellent demonstration of artisan collaboration, which supported Indigenous makeup artists, hair stylists, musicians, a florist, a photographer, and clothing designers.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share some of the names of the designers who contributed to the gala. The list includes designs from Berna Beaulieu, Lesley Ann Evans, Shawna Mcleod, Sarah Plotner, and Sheena Yakeleya. There were also designs from Charlene Chapple, owner of Haylani Apparel; Tishna Marlowe of Dene Couture; as well as Sarah Erasmus of Erasmus Apparel.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the musicians who performed at this event included Wesley Hardisty, who played the fiddle; William Greenland, who played the flute; and Casey Koyczan, who performed with multiple instruments and audio-visual effects.

Mr. Speaker, this event was only made possible thanks to a dozen generous sponsors, a small army of devoted volunteers, and thanks to the entire staff of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, who worked tirelessly on this event planning and coordinating. As a regional collective, the communities of Yellowknife, Detah, and N'dilo really came together in a positive way with this Indigenous Cultural Gala. It would be great to see this event become an annual mainstay within the cultural fabric of the Northwest Territories. Until the next one. Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Indigenous Cultural Gala 2019
Members' Statements

Page 5334

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Northwest Territories Educational Reform
Members' Statements

Page 5334

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last week I delivered a statement on the concerns the Sahtu is experiencing with low numbers of graduates.

Mr. Speaker, leading by a consultation process designed to engage all leaders, parents, and stakeholders is healthy in both strategic planning and developments of an action plan. Last year, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment delivered the Canada-NWT Early Learning and Child Care Agreement and three-year action plan.

Mr. Speaker, I agree on the principles of prudent management and, in the area of Sahtu education reform, advancing forward, a universal review session is long overdue, including reviewing the Education Act.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment response to the Aurora College Foundational Review is establishing a vision for post-secondary education for the Northwest Territories, a common vision around education after high school. I agree with these reformed engagements and the initiated online survey for public input. However, other venues can be reviewed for maximum outcomes, such as a Sahtu regional symposium for education.

Mr. Speaker, it is not what the Government of the Northwest Territories Department of ECE can do for the residents and families; it's what the families and leadership can do for education. This forum would create a community-based dialogue and joint collaboration necessary for a modernized education action plan. Later, Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of ECE. Mahsi.

Northwest Territories Educational Reform
Members' Statements

Page 5334

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.