This is page numbers 5453 - 5490 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 assembly.

Topics

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The department is still doing the work on their portion of the regulations under the Public Health Act. I have provided direction to the department. I have indicated that I'd like to see the regulations of Health and Social Services under the Public Health Act done within the life of this government. I have been given assurances that, barring any unforeseen crisis or challenges, that work will be done in the life of this government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Minister for that. I was going to ask the Minister about a timetable; he's provided one. What additional work needs to be done beyond regulations under the Public Health Act?

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

I think I need to ask for some clarity on this question. Can the Member explain exactly what he's referring to? I mean, Health and Social Services has a responsibility under the Public Health Act; then, other departments have other responsibilities; and the cities or the communities where crematoriums are being proposed have some responsibilities, as well. Just so I'm clear, what part of that question is the Member asking? Because I'll do my best to answer any of them.

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I know that the Minister loves to answer questions, so what other work does our government need to do to allow for cremation services here in the Northwest Territories?

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

That does help, and I do like to answer questions, but before I get into some of the work that still needs to be done, I do want to point out that there is no territorial law or regulation that prohibits the practise of cremation here in the Northwest Territories. The Member did move a private Member's bill which, actually, will help strengthen some of the regulations around the public health aspect of providing crematorium services here in the Northwest Territories, but, as we took a deeper dive into this, it became clear that Health and Social Services doesn't need to do anything, or change anything, actually, to allow crematoriums to happen here in the Northwest Territories.

We feel we have an opportunity to strengthen the practise and make sure that it's meeting certain standards, and we do thank the Member for moving that legislation that allows us to do that, and we are committed to getting those regulations done. We have been meeting with the city, as well as the other departments here in the Northwest Territories that might be affected, which include departments like MACA and ENR, and they are working with the municipalities, obviously, to try to find some solutions to questions that are being raised about exactly how crematorium services and the disposition of by-products might be addressed. I understand from my department, and I'll certainly need to seek some clarity, that there is nothing outstanding in Health and Social Services that would eliminate or challenge the existence of a crematorium here in the Northwest Territories.

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that, and I hope that he can share the clarity or insight that he's going to get from his department with me. I just want to nail this down, Mr. Speaker: can the Minister confirm that there are indeed no actual barriers in our legislation or regulations that would prevent the operation of a crematorium in the Northwest Territories? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

The Member is correct; there is no territorial law or regulation that prohibits the practise of cremation in the Northwest Territories. As I said prior to the private Member's bill, the Public Health Act actually provides the Chief Public Health Officer with the authority to take reasonable measures as she or he considers necessary in the circumstances to protect public health. So it existed. The private Member's bill, which is a great example of how to move forward a private Member's bill in this Legislation, is going to strengthen that, but it was available already.

I can say that officials from the Departments of Municipal and Community Affairs, ENR, and Health and Social Services did meet with the city in June of 2018 to determine the full scope of other regulatory changes that may be required, but none of those exist within Health and Social Services. It's our understanding that, currently, there is nothing that limits it, but the city does have some challenges that they want some questions answered on. I understand that work is under way so that we can, all together, move forward and see cremation occur here in the Northwest Territories.

Question 701-18(3): Cremation Services
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Question 702-18(3): Investment in Childcare
Oral Questions

March 14th, 2019

Page 5460

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. Mr. Speaker, we are at a crossroads where we have to take serious action on childcare in the NWT. Childcare can no longer be part of the market. It needs to be treated like education and healthcare. The benefits of early childhood education are undeniable, as the Minister knows from the work that she has done. Is the Minister prepared to take this step with childcare and bring it wholly within government? Thank you.

Question 702-18(3): Investment in Childcare
Oral Questions

Page 5460

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 702-18(3): Investment in Childcare
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would love to be able to say, yes, it's going to be a government responsibility, we'll provide the infrastructure, we'll provide the staffing, we'll provide the raises, and everything. I do know that there is a province, Quebec, that has done universal childcare, and I may be wrong, but my understanding is that they are now struggling because the government is taking so much ownership over that.

So if -- when we do this; it's not an if, it needs to happen eventually -- when we do this, we need to be strategic, Mr. Speaker. We need to make sure that we've done our research. We need to make sure that it's sustainable. One of the Members asked me before if I believed in universal basic income, and I thought, "Great idea." Then I did the research and realized basic income went for every person, and I went, "$30,000 times 44,000 people, that's $1.3 billion. Our whole budget is only $1.9 billion." So I think we have to be strategic. I think we need to support childcare, early childhood development, but we also need to make sure that it's sustainable and that we can afford it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 702-18(3): Investment in Childcare
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

I will just say briefly: I am not sure the Minister fully understands basic income. What I want to talk about is childcare. What we know is that the cost of finding and renovating space or building space from scratch for the non-profits who currently provide childcare is not affordable, even with the $35,000 that the department offers. My question is: what more funding can the government offer childcare providers in order to provide this essential service?

Question 702-18(3): Investment in Childcare
Oral Questions

Page 5460

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

The Member is probably right. My assumption of what guaranteed basic income was based on my own thinking. The research that I have done has mostly been on TED Talks. One of the Members actually shared with me some information on it. I was a little bit startled on it. I am more than interested in meeting with the Member if she wants to sit with me and educate me further on what basic guaranteed income is, because I think it is something we need to look at, as well.

What more support: there is more than just the start-up money, the safety money, and the expanding. There are the daily rates. Right now, I can only speak about Yellowknife. I don't know the rates for all over the Territories. In Yellowknife alone, daycare is ranging around $800 to $1,000 a month. Just our operating monies that we provide to daycares from the Government of the Northwest Territories for a full-time infant is $700 a month. That doesn't include the staff grants that we give. That figure, I don't have on hand. If I just took this $700 and averaged it on the $1,000, parents would be paying $1,700 a month. We are supporting it. It is not only about the start-up grants. It is all the things we do to support on the side, as well. I agree that we need to do more, that we need to do better, but we need to be strategic in doing that. One of the mandate commitments is to develop a plan. I have made my commitment in the House here many times that we will be developing a plan before the end of this Assembly.

Question 702-18(3): Investment in Childcare
Oral Questions

Page 5461

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you to the Minister for her response. The fact is that, without infrastructure money, we can't create more daycare spaces. It costs tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to build or renovate spaces so that they meet the exacting code required by childcare. A plan without any money for infrastructure is not going to move the bar on the need for licensed childcare in Yellowknife and in the communities without childcare. Is the Minister going to produce a plan that has money attached to it?