This is page numbers 5365 - 5412 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 women. View the webstream of the day's session.

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 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 5365

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 170-183: Fostering Relationships in Income Security
Ministers' Statements

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Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, income security programs are a vital piece of the societal safety network that together help address the needs of NWT residents. Those who access programs within this complex network are often at a point of vulnerability in their lives. It is good government practice to continually review and evaluate programs, especially social ones, to ensure that those in need are being provided appropriate supports and services.

Over the past three years, the department has implemented a number of enhancements to its suite of income security programs to better support NWT residents. By seeking input through fostering positive partnerships and having solutions-based conversations with important stakeholders, we continue to gain valuable insight for further improvements.

I am pleased to advise that, in December, I met with people who have accessed programs along with non-government social organizations to hear their priorities and solutions for the Income Assistance program. People accessing services and those working directly with people accessing income assistance have the experience and the knowledge to know what's working and what is not, as well as provide invaluable solution-based recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, I am accountable for ensuring that the programs and services offered by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment are helpful to the populations they are intended to serve. I have heard from our stakeholders that the Income Assistance program can be difficult to understand and navigate. As a result, the department is working on improved communication products and ensuring staff have the right tools to help clients understand available programs and their requirements.

I have also conducted a survey of front-line staff and invited Indigenous governments and Members of the Legislative Assembly to provide their input and views on suggested changes to the Income Assistance program. All of these suggestions and solutions I hear will inform our approach to any future program changes.

I remain committed to ensuring that the priorities and suggestions that have been identified by program recipients and those who work closely with them will be considered. Department staff have already begun to identify potential changes that can be made immediately and to develop a plan to consider the more complex medium- and long-term priorities. In the spirit of transparency, the department has shared a "what we heard" report from our meeting in December with the public, on the ECE website.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have started this conversation with staff, partners, and stakeholders. It is my intention to incorporate what we have heard when making changes to the Income Assistance program so that Northwest Territories residents receive the highest-quality service when accessing income security programs and services. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 170-183: Fostering Relationships in Income Security
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the NWT Housing Corporation.

Minister's Statement 171-18(3): Northern Housing Summit
Ministers' Statements

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Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Mr. Speaker, there have been many positive initiatives developed as we have worked to fulfill mandate commitments related to housing. Good-quality and affordable housing in our communities cannot be brought about just from the efforts from government. We need to engage all parties that have the capability and the willingness to improve housing conditions for our residents.

Mr. Speaker, I will be hosting a Northern Housing Summit in Inuvik on April 24 and 25, 2019, with the express intent of creating more housing partnerships. Invitees include representatives of all governments, development corporations, private industry, non-governmental organizations, political leaders, and other decision-makers.

We have made great strides in collaboration already through the Community Housing Support Initiative, the Community Housing Plan process, and the Northern Pathways to Housing projects. Through these initiatives, we are reaping the rewards of working together to meet community needs.

These initiatives are best practices in housing, Mr. Speaker. We need to share how we achieved these successes and move forward on implementing them in other communities. These approaches acknowledge that housing decisions and planning cannot be undertaken by one party alone. To truly lead the way with housing, we all need to work together.

Mr. Speaker, this Northern Housing Summit will also help position our stakeholders to take advantage of the unprecedented level of housing investments available now. For instance, with the National Housing Strategy, we are seeing funding that can be accessed at the local level. Speakers from the federal government in attendance at the Northern Housing Summit will give stakeholders the opportunity to learn more about how to access these investments. They will be able to sit down with multiple parties to explore their housing ambitions through the partnership-based National Housing Co-investment Fund. Participants will hear about investment opportunities under the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation's Community Housing Support Initiative. Additionally, there will be information on how to access funding to train youth and support apprentices.

Participants will not only be hearing from government. Community proponents will be speaking about their experiences with housing planning and developing housing projects. Other topics include developing the next generation of skilled trade workers, pan-northern housing construction practices, and Indigenous housing design. Invitations will also be going out to housing experts in other northern jurisdictions so that they can share their knowledge and experiences.

Further, we know that there are challenges for some Indigenous groups in the Northwest Territories in accessing federal funds identified under the Indigenous Housing Fund streams. I will meet with Indigenous leaders attending the summit to look at how we can ensure that all our Indigenous governments can access this funding. We have had great success in our partnership with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, and I would like to see that success expand across the Northwest Territories.

The Northern Housing Summit is also forward-looking. We must all do our part to fight climate change, and action is needed in the housing field, as well. Attendees will be able to participate in a Green Energy Solutions session. Approaches and technology change and improve over time, and this event can showcase those advances and highlight efforts already undertaken in the North that have yielded results.

Mr. Speaker, the Northern Housing Summit will be a great opportunity for communities and stakeholders to come together, learn from each other, and forge a new and shared future for housing in the Northwest Territories. I am looking forward to hosting this event and to the opportunities and investments that will come from it. Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 171-18(3): Northern Housing Summit
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 172-18(3): Update On New Transportation Corridors
Ministers' Statements

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Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has been working hard to fulfill its mandate commitment to secure funding to advancing planning and construction of priority transportation corridors in the Northwest Territories. This includes upgrading the winter road portions of the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road to an all-weather highway and planning for the Slave Geological Province Corridor. Today I am pleased to provide an update on the status of these strategic infrastructure projects.

In November 2018, the Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and Member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories Michael McLeod joined me and other special guests in Norman Wells to celebrate the official opening of the Canyon Creek all-season access road. This road will become a segment of the Mackenzie Valley Highway and is another incremental improvement to this corridor.

This project provided meaningful training and educational experience for local residents. At the peak of construction activity in March 2018, 81 people were employed, of whom 36 were local Sahtu residents and 28 were Northerners from other parts of the territory.

The Canyon Creek all-season access road is a great example of a capacity-building exercise that will prepare residents to take advantage of the opportunities that will come as we continue construction on the Mackenzie Valley Highway.

Mr. Speaker, partnerships with Indigenous organizations are critical to the success of our strategic corridor projects, including the Mackenzie Valley Highway. The Department of Infrastructure commenced its engagement efforts this past month by holding initial community engagement sessions and meetings with community leadership in Norman Wells, Tulita, Wrigley, and Fort Simpson. Discussions focused on the way forward for environmental reviews and permitting of this project, and how to maximize benefits to the people of the region. Many supportive comments were received, with leaders and residents interested in understanding when construction could begin and what types of training, employment and business opportunities would be available.

Mr. Speaker, our government reached another landmark last week to advance the Slave Geological Province Infrastructure Corridor that includes transportation, communications, and energy transmission. While at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Conference in Toronto last week, I joined Parliamentary Secretary Paul Lefebvre to announce funding to support this project. The funding will go toward the planning of the corridor, including the investigation of potential sources and planning and environmental studies to help advance this project as well as contribute to aerial geophysical surveys of the region. A total of $6.8 million will be invested, with the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, also known as CanNor, providing $5.1 million of the funding, and a further $750,000 will come from academic institutions, and the remaining amount will come from the GNWT.

The Department of Infrastructure is currently finalizing a comprehensive project application for funding to advance the Slave Geological Province Corridor under the northern call for the National Trade Corridors Fund. If approved, funding will go toward environmental planning and engineering studies for the corridor and completing the environmental assessment and regulatory processes for the first segment to Lockhart Lake. As we await the funding announcement, the department will continue to pursue opportunities to partner with Indigenous groups on this transformative infrastructure project.

Mr. Speaker, an important component of the Slave Geological Province Corridor that the department is also advancing the replacement of the Frank Channel Bridge on Highway No. 3. Building a new bridge across the Frank Channel would eliminate a major bottleneck in the resupply system from southern Canada to Yellowknife and the diamond mines.

When the bridge was constructed in 1960, it was designed for trucks weighing up to 32,000 kilograms. Structural improvements have been made to the bridge over the years to allow for commercial truck loads to 63,000 kilograms. However, the existing structure is nearing the end of its service life, and the through-truss design limits the size of loads.

The Department of Infrastructure is engaging with the community of Behchoko and the Tlicho Government on the required relocation of the bridge, and is continuing to assemble the required pre-engineering and environmental baseline work to prepare us for its replacement. The department is also finalizing a comprehensive project application to replace the Frank Channel Bridge under the northern call of the National Trade Corridors Fund.

Mr. Speaker, transportation corridor infrastructure plays a very important part in the health of our communities and the prosperity of the Northwest Territories, not just because of the connections that it will make, but also because of the skills, training, and economic opportunities that construction projects bring to the communities and residents. We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partners, including the federal government, and to building a safe, efficient, and resilient infrastructure system that meets the needs of the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 172-18(3): Update On New Transportation Corridors
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Congratulations to New Chief and Council in Tsiigehtchic
Members' Statements

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Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Chief Phillip Blake of Tsiigehtchic. Yesterday the community was busy with the election, with a total of four people running for chief. As for the council, they were all acclaimed, with an all-ladies council made up of Julie-Ann Andre, Charlene Blake, Jamie Benoit-Cardinal, Cindy McDonald, and Shelly Vanloon.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with Chief Phillip Blake and his council throughout the rest of our term and wish them all the best throughout their term, as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Congratulations to New Chief and Council in Tsiigehtchic
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Online Safety for Children
Members' Statements

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, our children's safety is always a concern for parents, especially when it comes to their interactions on social media. The next generation is growing up in a rapidly-changing technological environment, and although this has the possibility of reward and greater individual potential, not everyone or everything online will have your best interests in mind.

News of the "Momo Challenge" has been making the rounds, reportedly an online phenomenon where people, mainly children, are sent disturbing images on social media and are told to act out until a point of self-harm. Thankfully, this has been debunked as a hoax.

Mr. Speaker, in this ever-increasing complex age, we, as parents, teachers, and even our elders, in regard to our children, must remain eternally vigilant. This is because the Internet and all of the possibilities that come with it have the potential to expand an individual's capacity and ability to network, but it also carries the risk of spreading false, misleading, and truly frightful information. I am glad to hear of some school boards from across the country issuing tips and resources for child safety and parent awareness on social media and on other web-based applications.

Mr. Speaker, when used properly, the Internet is an incredible tool for learning and communication, but our most vulnerable need to know how to be safe online and how to scrutinize the information that they come across. Parents should discuss where online devices are kept at home and when kids are allowed to have access to them.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that all of us who use the Internet practice and hone our hoax detection skills, teach them to our children, and ensure that those who are most vulnerable in our society are aware of the devious tricksters, pranksters, and troubled persons who will try to take advantage without having fully pondered the consequences.

Mr. Speaker, the online world has created an interconnected society like no other in the history of the world. Our children are set to inherit the incredible possibilities of this world, and it is up to us to ensure that they are prepared to be responsible online citizens who know how to keep themselves safe. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Online Safety for Children
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Long-Term Care in Fort Simpson
Members' Statements

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Long-term care facilities provide an essential and critical service to our elders population, along with society as a whole. Long-term care facilities, very much like the elders' home in Fort Simpson, provide our elders with 24-hour professional care in terms of their physical, mental, emotional, social, and often psychological needs. Many of our elders require 24-hour care, much of which the family is unable to provide. Consequently, making the decision to place loved ones in long-term facility is never an easy one.

When an elder moves from their place of residence to a facility, there is always a very stressful and emotional time of transition. More often than not, the elder is not able to express their personal autonomy in this decision. In these times, the professional staff offering the elder a great measure of compassion, kindness, and consideration in terms of this life-changing transition is critical.

Long-term care facilities not only meet the essential needs of the elderly population; they also assist with activities of daily living, medical help, monitoring and administration of medication, nutritious food, and the access to traditionally prepared food on a daily basis, with the health, safety, and wellness of our elders a continuous focus and priority. They often offer essential services which stimulate the fundamental need for socialization, independence, and interdependence.

Showcasing the Fort Simpson elders' home is exactly that; a home, not an institution, nor does it look or operate as such. The management and staff at the elders' home deliver exemplary, high-quality service to our elders, providing not only professional care, but compassionate, person-centred care with an optimal team approach to each resident's need. The staff is critically sensitive and aware of the culture of the residents who they serve and go out of their way to provide traditional food on an ongoing businesses. Family and community members are encouraged to participate in any and all activities and are warmly welcomed by all staff members.

A critical piece of this incredible service offered to our elders is the representation and delivery of the meals that they receive. The meals are prepared and placed on Bunsen burners to keep them warm, put on a trolley, and served to each resident in their individual seats. Residents can then choose what they would like to eat and the proportion size, hence encouraging independence and autonomy.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the management and staff of the Fort Simpson elders' home for the generous love and care that they express to our elders each and every day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Long-Term Care in Fort Simpson
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.