This is page numbers 5601 - 5648 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 public. View the webstream of the day's session.

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Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I totally agree with the Minister on that. I greatly appreciate that answer. This is just more of a commentary, and I am going to try to be real quick. I know, in the Deh Cho proper, they are doing some pretty amazing things. They have a new system. They are looking at it because of the challenges that we are facing. Our EDI scores are not as great as they should be. We had junior kindergarten in our region prior. We used that as a pilot project.

I have to give credit to the education system, the divisional board. They are trying to find new ways of doing it, trying to be more creative. They are trying to focus on literacy. They are trying to focus on trades. I know it is beyond the other scope of it. I have to give credit where credit is due. I would like to say that the divisional board is trying to address these issues and they are trying to think outside the box. I have to give them credit for that. I thank you for your time. I will turn the floor over to the next speaker. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you. Mr. Testart.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Reflecting on some other commentary that has been made, I think junior kindergarten is a good idea, but the devil is always in the details. One of the unintended consequences of the program has been making the private daycare industry basically untenable from a revenue standpoint and pricing private spaces out of the market. We have dealt with that in this Assembly very recently, and it was not a straightforward solution.

Given that, given that there is going to be an ever-increasing need for daycare when the Minister has said earlier that parents in Yellowknife understand they have to pay $800 to $1,000. I remember paying that, and it did not make my life easy. It was very difficult. For many parents who are either in a single-income household or even modest income, that is living paycheque to paycheque because of daycare fees. You need to work in this town. There is no option around it. We do need to head for these spaces. Things like initiatives, the policy environment that supports junior kindergarten has also shut down viable private industry.

I guess the idea is: we have seen well-costed proposals for universal daycare in the Northwest Territories with, I think, a $20-million price tag that this Assembly considered early on and then dropped because it wasn't fiscally feasible in our current lifespan. If we don't do something, if we just kind of keep trying to tweak things here and there or hope that incremental change will solve this problem, we are never going to address these kind of fundamental challenges of creating daycare spaces for families in the Northwest Territories. There are communities where the GNWT is sitting on many assets that aren't currently in use that could be repurposed to that.

The Minister spoke about her long-term vision, but when are we actually going to start developing that long-term vision? Because, if we continue on this path, we are always going to leave some families unrepresented with their childcare needs. If you can't deliver that as a government that has set out to do this as a way to address the cost of live, a way to ensure kids have healthy starts, et cetera, et cetera, we are going to be failing the people we have set out to help if we don't address these unintended consequences.

We need more than just tweaks. We need more than just subsidies. We need to find a real transformative change to the system that is going to create more spaces, affordable spaces. If that means the government has to be the daycare provider for parents of the Northwest Territories, then so be it. What is the Minister planning to do with these long-term problems? I know it is a future government's issue, but we need to start that work now. Thank you.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Minister Cochrane.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. We are doing a lot, and we need to keep going. Like I said, we have increased the supplement to daycare providers directly. We have increased the supplement to daycare workers who are licensed, all those are licensed. If they are not licensed, they don't get the supplements. We are doing the training for people. We have expanded our post-secondary education for people. We did JK. It's huge; 552 kids in the Northwest Territories are getting free daycare for four-year-olds. We are looking at parenting in our programs for in school in a couple year.

I want to challenge a little bit because the assumption that I am hearing is that daycare is the answer. Daycare is not the answer. Daycare is part of the answer. We have some communities that have zero daycare, and their children are struggling. The smaller communities are struggling. Is daycare the answer? You know what? As a mother, a woman who bore children, and I have said this many times, I wish I had the choice that I could stay home with my children until my children were six years old. I did not want my children to be taken out of my arms and be put in a daycare, somebody else to raise my children for that many times, especially people who are Indigenous and experienced residential school who have lost our children, lost our families.

We can't look at universal daycare as the only answer. We need to look at daycare for people who want that service. We need to look at parenting support for people who want that service. We need to look at social interaction for people who want that service. We need to have a continuum of care to address the needs of early childhood development. One answer is not the answer. I would not want my child at one year old to be wrenched out of my arms and be put into a daycare where I did not know. If it is an option, that is fine, but it needs to be a continuum. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you. Mr. Testart.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you. Look, I appreciate the Minister's passion on this, but we are not talking about forcibly apprehending children and forcing them into daycare with no parental consent. We are saying that parents, the people in the communities, the people in Yellowknife, hard-working Northerners who, because of how our economy works, which is very expensive, we all know the cost of living is very high, that you need to work. If single mothers are going to work, if families are going to work, then they need those options available to them.

Junior kindergarten and other policies have priced the private sector out of the market so the spaces aren't available. That is what we have heard on this side of the House. That is what we have heard, and we brought it forward to the Minister. We brought it forward to the government. There has been some progress on one issue we brought forward, but there are many more out there.

The question is: what are we going to do to provide the same opportunities that wealthy people in Yellowknife can currently afford throughout the Northwest Territories? Because the government has, again, created a policy environment where there can be no competitive private sector options.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Mr. Testart, I'm afraid the answer will have to wait, because, noting the clock, I will have to rise and report progress. I want to thank the Minister for appearing. A warning to any Minister who wants to make a far-flung Minister's statement: you'll be opened up to all types of questions. Thank you to the witnesses for appearing. Sergeant-at-Arms, please escort the witnesses from the Chamber. I will now rise and report progress.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

May I have the report, Member for Hay River North.

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

May 28th, 2019

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, your committee has been considering Minister's Statement 158-18(3), Developments in Early Childhood Programs and Services, and would like to report progress, and, Mr. Speaker, I move that the report of the Committee of the Whole be concurred with.

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Thank you. Do I have a seconder? Member for Kam Lake. The motion is in order. All those in favour. All those opposed. Motion carried.

---Carried

Masi. Item 22, third reading of bills. Minister of Finance.

Bill 26: Statistics Act
Third Reading Of Bills

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Yellowknife South, that Bill 26, Statistics Act, be read for the third time and, Mr. Speaker, I would request a recorded vote. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

The Member has requested a recorded vote. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

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Some Hon. Members

Question.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Question has been called. All those in favour, please stand.