This is page numbers 5255 - 5298 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 housing. View the webstream of the day's session.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Julie 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 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 5255

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 165-18(3): Developments in Wellness in Education
Ministers' Statements

Page 5255

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, programs focused on both teacher and student wellness are foundational to education renewal. Mental wellness is essential for everyone involved in teaching and learning, and we have acted to address this need.

In response to the critical need for mental health supports for schools and in communities, the Departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Health and Social Services are partnering with education bodies and health and social services authorities to provide counselling services for children and youth within schools and in the community. We are using a four-year phased-in approach that began in 2018.

Counselling services will be provided by child and youth care counsellors who live in the community or by a travelling team of counsellors. These counsellors will be part of a larger continuum of mental health and wellness services for children and youth. Counsellors will have strong, integrated relationships with education staff and other community staff, including social workers, nurses, doctors, community counsellors, and youth centre staff.

Mr. Speaker, schools with fewer than 75 students will receive mental health counselling services from a travelling team, who will provide three separate week-long visits per community each year, as well as services via technology. Schools with 75 to 250 students will have a full-time counsellor; those with 251 to 500 students will have two full-time counsellors; and schools with more than 500 students will have three full-time counsellors.

For the 2018-2019 school year, the Deh Cho and Tlicho services are in place and running. All the counsellor positions except one have been filled. The travelling team visits from September to December have all been completed and the winter visits are scheduled. They will return for a third time in the spring.

The Sahtu and Beaufort Delta regions will be set up in the 2019-2020 school year, followed by the Yellowknife region in 2020-2021 and the South Slave Region in 2021-2022.

Mr. Speaker, teacher wellness is also an important focus of the department. Starling Minds, an online mental health support platform for teachers, was made available to all Northwest Territories teachers through a collaborative initiative between Education, Culture and Employment and the NWT Teachers' Association. Now in its third year, this support stemmed from a memorandum of understanding on mental health in the workplace in the most recent collective agreement with the Teachers' Association.

As well, following the implementation of the 2017-2018 three-year pilot of the Strengthening Teacher Instructional Practice, we have received positive feedback on the time that educators now have to plan, collaborate, and participate in professional development.

The Northwest Territories Teachers' Association surveyed its membership in November 2017 and assessed the impact the extra time provided to educators across the North. They received numerous comments and observations. The feedback from educators was incredibly positive. As an example, one educator said: "STIP changed my life. I normally have to write exams, mark exams, write report card comments, and contact parents outside of the school day. I have my life back and my wellness has improved dramatically. STIP is a game changer for wellness in the teaching profession."

Mr. Speaker, Child and Youth Care Counsellors, travelling mental health teams, access for teachers to the Starling Minds platform, and Strengthening Teacher Instructional Practice are innovative ways of improving educational outcomes by addressing issues of mental wellness in schools and communities across the NWT.

Research, investment, and piloting have also been important in getting these initiatives off the ground, but none of them could have been implemented without our partners in education. We can all be proud of the collaboration among Government of the Northwest Territories departments, education and health authorities, and the Northwest Territories Teachers' Association that has led to strong programs supporting the well-being and success of school children, youth, and teachers. All of our communities will reap the benefits of these programs for many years to come. Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 165-18(3): Developments in Wellness in Education
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 166-18(3): Road Safety Initiatives
Ministers' Statements

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Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, ensuring Northwest Territories highways are a safe place for all road users is a top priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories. The challenges we face in regard to road safety are constantly evolving, and these challenges must often be met with unique and innovative solutions. In addition to the work undertaken each year to maintain and upgrade the engineering component of our highways, the Department of Infrastructure is also committed to staying up to date on policy and legislative initiatives aimed at making our roads safer. This afternoon I would like to share with Members a few of the initiatives that the Department of Infrastructure is leading on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

With the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada on October 17, 2018, drug impaired driving has become a top road safety concern for all jurisdictions. To get a better understanding of the issue of impaired driving among the general population of drivers in the Northwest Territories, the Department of Infrastructure conducted a drug and alcohol roadside survey in Yellowknife in September 2018.

The purpose of conducting this survey was to collect data that will allow us to compare the number of drivers under the influence of cannabis before legalization and after legalization. It will also serve as a guide as we develop more targeted drug impaired driving awareness campaigns. This data will be made available to the public later this year as part of the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators' national report, which will provide a cross-jurisdictional comparison of drug impaired driving.

Mr. Speaker, on the same day that recreational cannabis use was legalized, the Government of the Northwest Territories implemented strict drug impaired driving laws under the Motor Vehicles Act. In order to send a clear message to our young and new drivers that impaired driving will not be tolerated in the Northwest Territories, we have implemented zero-tolerance laws and driver's licence suspensions for drugs and alcohol for drivers aged 21 and under and novice drivers. We have also extended this zero tolerance to drivers of certain commercial vehicles.

In addition, any driver found to be impaired by drugs who fails a standardized field sobriety test or an evaluation by a drug recognition expert will have their driver's licence suspended for a significant amount of time.

Mr. Speaker, distracted driving is another form of impaired driving that continues to challenge policymakers and enforcement officials. In addition to significant fines, the Northwest Territories was one of the first jurisdictions in Canada to suspend drivers for using a restricted electronic device while driving. However, the problem persists. You can see it for yourself while you're waiting at a red light, passing drivers on their cell phones. The Government of the Northwest Territories, RCMP, and other partners continue to monitor this issue to determine what additional steps must be taken to deter drivers from this preventable dangerous activity.

Mr. Speaker, as technology evolves, so does our ability to use it to our advantage. Another road safety initiative that the Department of Infrastructure is implementing includes a five-year plan for the enhancement of Intelligent Transportation Systems. Intelligent Transportation Systems is the use of communication, computer, and system technologies to make transportation safer, more efficient, and more sustainable.

$3.5 million has been allocated from existing funds over the next five years towards Intelligent Transportation Systems projects. This investment will support the installation of a network of traffic counters and web cameras, improve ferry tracking services, and increase the overall capacity of our road weather information system.

Residents will be able to make more informed travel decisions by providing near real-time information on road and weather conditions, including images and current weather available on Infrastructure's public website. The public will also have access to up-to-date statuses of ferry and ice crossings and imminent road closures due to incidences, poor weather, and wildfires. Industry will benefit from real-time information on weight restrictions on highways, winter roads, and ice crossings, and on restricted hours of operation on winter roads. The increased data will also allow the Government of the Northwest Territories to make better-informed decisions regarding operations and maintenance of our transportation infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, one final road safety initiative that I would like to highlight is part of a national dialogue. Mandatory entry-level training for commercial truck drivers is being considered across Canada as a measure to increase road safety for both commercial truck drivers and the public. By the spring of 2019, three provinces will have implemented this mandatory training.

In order to better understand the concerns and positions of the Northwest Territories' residents and businesses in regard to implementation in our jurisdiction, last month the Department of Infrastructure completed several community engagement sessions on the topic. The feedback received will help inform the government's decision as to whether mandatory training should be implemented here in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, new road safety challenges emerge across Canada every day. The Government of the Northwest Territories continues to work with our partners to make road safety a priority for the benefit of all users of the Northwest Territories highway system. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 166-18(3): Road Safety Initiatives
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Gladue Reports
Members' Statements

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Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Our neighbours in Yukon are piloting a new approach to the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in jails. The Department of Justice there is funding a three-year pilot program to train people to write what are called Gladue reports. A Gladue report provides detailed information about the offender's background, including any time spent in residential schools or in the care of child welfare, family and community history, as well as struggles with mental health and addictions. The reports are named after a Supreme Court of Canada decision given 20 years ago, which asked judges to consider these issues when sentencing Indigenous offenders.

A Gladue report is described as one tool in a toolkit for judges to consider when sentencing the offender. The intention is to encourage judges to consider restorative approaches to sentencing, other than jail time. During the first year of Yukon's pilot program, Gladue writers have produced 37 reports for use in the courts.

Mr. Speaker, what is new here is that the Yukon has formalized production of the reports. Instead of someone doing them off the side of their desk, there is now a roster of trained staff available for the task. Further, the reports have been standardized so that the same kind of information is available to the courts.

Mr. Speaker, there are some important pieces to the Yukon pilot project. First, it is collaborative. It includes both the Yukon Legal Services Society and the Council of Yukon First Nations. Second, there has been a focus on training Indigenous people as report writers because of their innate understanding of the context of the accused. Third, the cost of the pilot project is $530,000 over three years. This is a reasonable investment, considering the cost of jailing offenders.

Mr. Speaker, there is no equivalent to the Gladue reports in the Northwest Territories. Pre-sentence reports are written by probation officers and focus on risk and risk management. In short, they serve a different purpose.

Mr. Speaker, we are facing the same overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system as the Yukon is. While it is too early to tell the difference that the pilot program is making, it is providing essential information to the courts with which they can provide restorative justice. I will have questions for the Minister of Justice. Mahsi.

Gladue Reports
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Business Incentive Policy and NWT Manufactured Products List
Members' Statements

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to speak on the GNWT's Business Incentive Program, otherwise known as BIP, and the NWT Manufactured Products Policy. These programs at their core are great concepts, keeping government money in the territory, stimulating well-paying local jobs and spinoff benefits into our economy. Yet, as the old saying goes, the devil is in the details.

Current guidelines to qualify to be placed on the NWT Manufactured Products List require that "the manufactured product must be a product specific and is an item that is regularly stocked or parts of a catalogue of items." I am, like several manufacturers in my riding of Kam Lake, confused as to why such specificity is required.

To further quote from the department's website, in order to benefit from the NWT Manufactured Products Policy, your product must be recognized as an approved NWT-manufactured product. This administrative front-heavy demand seems mundane on paper, but the real cost to some businesses is prohibitive. Product listing of all possible goods with unique dimensions seems to me that the GNWT is prioritizing paperwork over keeping jobs and money in the territory.

Northern manufacturing companies maintain a degree of flexibility. They must, to ensure that they can continue to adapt to ever-changing market conditions, but it seems that some companies are required to specify their products to a greater extent than others. Using BIP to buy a winch truck? No specificity required. Buying standard traffic signs? No specificity required. Signs for parks and interpretation? No specificity required. Buying handrails? Specificity required. Bear-proof garbage cans? You need dimensions and details, more specificity. Metal roofing, siding, flashing, and trim? No specificity. Mr. Speaker, all of the items I have just listed have the probability of being fully customized by northern manufactures to meet the requirements of the buyer, whomever they may be. I am at a loss as to why some companies seem to be required to submit painstaking details, down to the millimetre, that they could possibly modify while others seem to be merely left to vaguely describe the degree to which they can customize a product.

Mr. Speaker, we need to be empowering northern manufacturers and businesses to thrive and grow here in the NWT. Instead, they seem to be arbitrarily burdened with unnecessary and unevenly applied red tape. I will have questions for the Minister responsible for procurement later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Business Incentive Policy and NWT Manufactured Products List
Members' Statements

Page 5256

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Truth and Reconciliation Counselling for GNWT Employees
Members' Statements

Page 5256

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. One of the federal programs that came about in response to the recommendations made through the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program.

Through this program, residential school survivors and their families are able to access mental health counselling as delivered by professionals, Health Canada-approved counsellors, at no cost. Of course, any of the approved counsellors are in Yellowknife and my constituents have to travel for these appointments, which Health Canada also pays for.

Where it becomes complicated, Mr. Speaker, is if you are a GNWT employee trying to access these needed services. Our leave provisions, while generous, do not really accommodate anyone trying to access health services that are being paid for by outside parties. In order to access more than one day of casual leave for a medical appointment, a GNWT employee has to apply for medical travel assistance for up to three days of casual leave. Otherwise, Mr. Speaker, the GNWT employee would have to use annual leave, lieu, or sick leave to attend appointments. For our employees who do not have these credits available, what recourse do we have to access this critical service?

It seems rather strange, Mr. Speaker, that, even though the GNWT is not responsible for any costs related to the travel, accommodations, per diem, or counsellor, our employee has to apply for and get approval for medical travel when this is not a medical-travel situation.

At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, the process needs to be adjusted for easy access for employees and for the GNWT to administer. I will have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Truth and Reconciliation Counselling for GNWT Employees
Members' Statements

Page 5256

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Retirement of Deline Housing Association Employees Phebie Kenny and David Modeste
Members' Statements

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Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today it gives me great pleasure to acknowledge two constituents of mine from Deline who recently retired from the Deline Housing Association.

Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Phebie Kenny started as a manager of the Deline Housing Association in 1986 and, after taking various periods away from the role to pursue her education and other career opportunities, returned to the housing association and retired after 30 years as a manager in January 2019. Mrs. Kenny and her family are long-time residents of Deline and are dedicated to serving their community. In addition to her hard work as the manager, Mrs. Kenny also worked for the Deline Got'ine Government and the Sahtu Secretariat. She has five children and two grandchildren.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge David Modeste, another long-term resident of Deline who also retired in January 2019. Mr. Modeste was a maintenance foreman and had been with the Deline Housing Association since 1985, a span of more than 33 years. Mr. Modeste is a respected and active member of his community, providing professional and spiritual guidance to the members, and he served on the board of the Lands Corporation. Mr. Modeste is a father of five children, grandfather to 13 grandchildren, and great-grandfather to twins recently born. Mr. Modeste is an avid hunter and fisherman who often shares his catch with elders of his community.

Mr. Speaker, both Mrs. Kenny and Mr. Modeste were valued assets to the housing association for their community. They will be greatly missed. They were both very hard-working individuals who always thought about the tenants first. They have both given excellent guidance and insight to their colleagues over the recent years and prior, while working for the betterment of the community. We all wish them well in their future endeavours. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Retirement of Deline Housing Association Employees Phebie Kenny and David Modeste
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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