Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. During the spring sitting, I asked the Finance Minister, who is responsible for human resources, to make a commitment to update the GNWT's Affirmative Action Policy. As you may recall, the policy is so outdated that it still contains a commitment to do a policy review in 1994.
As I said in the House back in May, according to the GNWT's 2018 Public Service Annual Report, only 30.5 percent of the territorial government's workforce is made up of Indigenous Aboriginal people. The Minister pointed out that this number is higher in the regions, where 46 percent of the GNWT workforce is Indigenous Aboriginals, and I am glad to hear that.
Unfortunately, I also hear too many stories from people in my riding who are unsuccessful at getting GNWT jobs. If these people are willing and interested in working for the GNWT, we need to do everything we can to get them into jobs. If we are not doing that, then the Affirmative Action Policy is just lip service to helping Aboriginal people to get government jobs, if any.
I want to repeat some of the suggestions I made. First, we need to resurrect this government's commitment to decentralize more jobs out to the regions. It may be more expedient and cost-effective to put jobs in headquarters, but cost and convenience to government should not always outweigh the economic and social benefits of putting jobs in the communities. I also suggested that a department's affirmative action statistics should be an important criterion for assessing a deputy minister's performance.
In his response to my earlier questions, the Minister talked a lot about merit. I want to be clear that I support this principle, too. Believe me, if I need open heart surgery, I want to know that the most qualified surgeon is the one holding the scalpel, but, as we know, institutions like the GNWT also have a responsibility to be committed to reconciliation and should be willing to go the extra mile to overcome the past abuses of the residential school system, which deprived native children of educational opportunities and left a bitter legacy of substance abuse and family and social problems.
People need to be able to get a foot in the door so that they can build the experience to qualify them to compete for better paying jobs based on merit. One way to do this would be to put in place an advocate for Indigenous employment candidates. Mr. Speaker, I speak unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Mahsi.
---Unanimous consent granted