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This is from 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 land.

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 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Ministers' statements. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

Minister's Statement 230-18(3): Sustainable Livelihoods Action Plan
Ministers' Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Government of the Northwest Territories made a mandate commitment to finalize a strategic plan to enhance existing programming and build new partnership initiatives to support healthy and sustainable traditional lifestyles and to develop country food programming to promote the consumption of wild foods.

This month the Department of Environment and Natural Resources released its Sustainable Livelihoods Action Plan, a strategic document that will meet those mandate commitments by helping to provide better support to Northwest Territories communities in the overall development and implementation of on-the-land programming.

Mr. Speaker, this government understands the importance of sustainable country foods systems, traditional economies, and being on the land, as well as the challenges communities face and the changes they see socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally.

The government supports the continuation of a prosperous, diverse, and sustainable traditional economy that helps communities invest in their renewable resources and traditional harvesting practices, and that increases cultural programming and education, alongside food security. The Sustainable Livelihoods Action Plan outlines a number of actions that will help us to achieve a vision where all NWT residents have opportunities to connect with the land in ways that are meaningful to them.

These actions focus on removing barriers to going out on the land, building land-based skills and knowledge, supporting community harvesting programs, promoting intergenerational learning between youth and elders, and improving the promotion of existing programs and opportunities.

The action plan was developed through extensive public engagement, including gatherings in 18 NWT communities, regional meetings, online surveys, a youth photo and writing contest, an advisory committee meeting, and direct outreach to individuals and organizations.

The plan reflects the needs identified by Northerners and helps to guide our way forward as a government in establishing priorities for programs, services, capacity, and funding.

Mr. Speaker, Environment and Natural Resources is committing to supporting the continuation of culture and traditions in the NWT. The Sustainable Livelihoods Action Plan helps us to promote and support the sustainable use and development of natural resources in the NWT and to protect, conserve, and enhance our environment for the social and economic benefit of all residents. The department looks forward to working closely with our many partners to ensure successful implementation of this action plan. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 230-18(3): Sustainable Livelihoods Action Plan
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Minister's Statement 231-18(3): Western Canada Summer Games
Ministers' Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to recognize the athletes, coaches, and mission staff who represented Team Northwest Territories at the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games held in Swift Current, Saskatchewan from August 9th to the 18th. This year, Team NT fielded 167 participants in seven different sports, including soccer, swimming, athletics, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling.

I am happy to report that this year's results at the games ended with more medals than the Northwest Territories has ever seen in 20 years. Good job to the athletes and the coaches. As Members may recall, during the first half of competition, Team NT had some great results, particularly in swimming, where Leo Konge won a gold and two bronze medals. Our basketball and soccer teams also had great performances, standing up well against the larger provinces and our friends from the Yukon.

In the second half, athletes from volleyball, wrestling, and athletics accomplished some great results, including three bronze medals:

  • in tennis, women's doubles, Ofira Duru and Monika Kunderlik;
  • in athletics, our male medley relay team, Struden Hult-Griffin, Bryce Smith, Zackary Horton, Nicolas Bennett; and
  • in wrestling, Cameron Courtorellie.

There were other noteworthy results and achievements in the second half:

  • Katie Hart broke three Northwest Territories records to finish fifth overall in javelin; and
  • Nick Rivet of Yellowknife was also the first-ever on-field official from the Northwest Territories to adjudicate soccer matches at this level.

Mr. Speaker, I am also proud to recognize Team NT for their efforts to make all sport more inclusive. On August 15th, the team launched its "You Can Play" program promoting inclusivity and respect in sport.

The Western Canada Summer Games included teams from Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. There were nearly 1,700 athletes, coaches, managers, and staff and approximately 2,000 volunteers engaged in the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games. The Western Canada Summer Games are an incredible event because not only do they combine athletic competition, they also provide an opportunity for building lifetime friendships with fellow Canadian athletes.

The Government of the Northwest Territories was extremely proud to promote our team at the Western Canada Summer Games through direct financial support and indirectly through a range of other programs that encourage the development of athletes, coaches, and officials at the local, regional, territorial, and national levels.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Rita Mercredi, chef de mission for Team NT; Damon Crossman, assistant chef de mission for Team NT; and all of their mission staff. I would also like to acknowledge and thank the many volunteers who were responsible for supporting Team NT, including the Sport North Federation and all of the territorial sport organizations who were responsible for selecting and managing the team. Their contributions play an important role in helping create a healthier Northwest Territories.

I would like to make special mention of all the parents and caregivers who supported children and youth in their athletic pursuits. Their dedication to the development of all our youth is evident through the number of parents and care-givers who attended these games in person, and it is appreciated.

Mr. Speaker, we have much to be proud of in our sport and recreation system, and these Western Canada Summer Games were a great example of the good that can come from supporting these endeavours. I am sure all Members of this House will join me in thanking all our volunteers at the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games and congratulations to all who participated. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 231-18(3): Western Canada Summer Games
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 232-18(3): Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan
Ministers' Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I will be tabling the Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan. The Quality Improvement Plan sets out actions that we have been taking to address issues identified as part of our internal reviews, the 2018 Auditor General's Report, and from feedback from staff, standing committee, Indigenous governments, and other stakeholders throughout the system. Our number one priority is the safety and wellbeing of children and youth in our care, and this plan provides clear direction, priority areas, and actions for improving our child and family services system in order to achieve better outcomes for children, youth, and their families while ensuring our system operates in compliance with legislation.

The plan integrates four underlying strategic directions, enhancing a culture of quality, human resource planning, building staff capacity, and engagement, into 10 priority areas that the Department and Health and Social Services and health authorities have been focussing on to improve the child and family services system.

We have begun embedding quality improvements into the foundation of the child and family services system. Based on the new approach for quality improvement, planning, monitoring, and acting on the findings, we are establishing a culture of accountability and responsiveness.

Feedback from our stakeholders over the past several months, including a face-to-face meeting with Indigenous governments in May, helped reprioritize and refine the action items in this quality improvement plan. We have a total of 70 action items, of which 19 are completed and 51 are on track.

We have piloted enhanced investigation skills training in April to ensure staff have the skills needed to conduct critical interviews and investigations to better serve our children, youth, and families. We also developed an enhanced child and protection worker statutory core training program in May, which includes a partnership with the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation to enhance cultural safety. In June and July, the foundation delivered a full day of on-the-land learning experiences and facilitated in-person testimonial from a former youth in care.

Human resources planning is another strategic driver of the plan. To decrease the number of vacancies of Child and Family Services staff, we developed a comprehensive human resources recruitment and retention plan in May. We also acquired 21 new Child and Family Services positions in April that will help us address capacity and staffing challenges across the Northwest Territories. By reducing vacancies, staff will have smaller caseloads, which will allow them to provide better support to the children, youth, and families that they serve.

In February and April, refresher training on the four established Structured Decision Making® Tools was also provided to all supervisors and managers, and frontline staff in the Sahtu and the Beaufort-Delta, as well as the piloting of advanced interviewing training with 15 Child and Family Services staff.

An oversight mechanism for the practice of transferring guardianship was also established in April. This mechanism gives the statutory director increased oversight over the practice of transferring guardianship and ensures that files are reviewed and completed in a timely manner.

Quality improvement is a process, Mr. Speaker, and not an event. We have built flexibility into the plan to help make sure that we are on the right path, are adjusting our approach when needed, and are considering all options for success. The actions I have detailed are just some of the highlighted improvements that we have already made in the system since we began our work in developing the quality improvement plan. Many of the actions identified are ongoing to ensure that they are integrated and sustained into how we provide these important services, instead of simply becoming checkmarks on a list.

Mr. Speaker, transparency and partnership are the foundation of our quality improvement approach. To ensure that the public and key stakeholders are kept up-to-date on the progress on each of the action items identified in the plan, we have launched an online progress tracker that can be viewed on the Department of Health and Social Services' website. This tracker will be used to report regularly on how we are doing in meeting our improvement outcomes.

It is important to acknowledge that there is still a lot work to do on our quality improvement journey. The quality improvement plan is intended to be a living document that will allow us to continuously respond to, learn from, adjust, and improve our services to children and their families over the longer term.

To realize our goal of better outcomes for children, youth, and families, we will need the continued support and engagement of our partners to inform our quality improvements. Through ongoing engagement with frontline staff, Indigenous governments and organizations, the Foster Family Coalition of the Northwest Territories, standing committees, key stakeholders and those in our care, we can ensure that we remain on the right path.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize and thank those who have contributed to the development and implementation of the quality improvement plan. This work is reflective of our staff as well as many stakeholders and partners who are deeply committed to improving outcomes for children, youth, and families, and is a commitment to working together to ensure the safety, well-being, and future successes of those in our care. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 232-18(3): Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Management of Grizzly Bears In Aklavik
Members' Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last week I spoke about the grizzly bear problem in Aklavik. This is becoming a major issue for my constituents. Bears are wandering throughout the community and making everyone feel unsafe. Parents are worried about their children walking to school soon or playing outside unsupervised.

Mr. Speaker, bears will travel up to 100 kilometres to get back to an easy food source like town dumps. Once a bear is food-conditioned and human-habituated, it will keep coming back. The Yukon government has been proactive in putting information about bear relocation on their Facebook page, and notes that it is not always the solution. It is expensive in both cost and time. Sometimes, the bears need to be put down. The Minister last week said he would check with his officials on what steps can be taken. I will have questions for the Minister later today. Thank you.

Management of Grizzly Bears In Aklavik
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Government of the Northwest Territories Procurement Practices
Members' Statements

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The issue surrounding GNWT sourcing and procurement systems are, sadly, nothing new. Over the life of this Assembly, my colleagues and I have heard from countless stakeholders from the private sector about the recurring and yet unresolved issues surrounding procurement. We are now at a crossroads. The GNWT cannot continue to deny the significant lack of confidence concerning public procurement expressed by the northern business community.

Together, Regular MLAs have supported calls for procurement reform and have worked cooperatively through standing committees to bring forward a comprehensive report on procurement issues. Conflicting policies and practises are key concerns of the business community. The stated goals of these procurement and sourcing systems are to help ensure a healthy and prosperous northern private sector, and yet small companies are expected to compete with much larger southern ones who will utmost always be able to bid a lower cost than their local counterparts. This underbidding by southern firms who have access to beneficial supply change and the GNWT's inconsistent and opaque policies fail to ensure that the core of the business incentive and other procurement incentive programs are achieved.

This report and years of advocacy from this side of the House should be a wake-up call for our government that it needs to do better on procurement and meaningfully change how it does business with our hardworking private sector. If we wish to see northern businesses thrive, then we need to see the GNWT's procurement policies updated to reflect the high cost of doing business in the NWT and to ensure procurement opportunities are, above all, fair, transparent, and benefit Northerners above all else. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Government of the Northwest Territories Procurement Practices
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Government of the Northwest Territories Culture and Heritage Circle Awards Recipient Alfred Taneton
Members' Statements

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This morning I was very glad to witness the 2019 Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle awards. Congratulations to all four individuals and one community group. This event recognizes the individuals, youth, elders, and groups who exemplify excellence and dedication and promotion, preservation of arts, heritage, and cultures in their communities and regions.

Mr. Speaker, listening to our Dene elder, Mr. Alfred Taneton, one of the recipients, a large part of his remarks was directed on working together, a statement that I cherished while listening to our elder. The spirit of collaboration and partnerships between GNWT Indigenous groups and residents of our territory was addressed in my Member's statement of last week.

Maintaining these fundamental principles of engagement will be, and my continued efforts when I review the great need for improved programs and service delivery in our smaller rural and remote communities, communities that experience hardships and barriers of limitations and the high cost of supplies, and dependent seasonal supply chain systems.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, it would be prudent of our next Assembly to continue with building on relationships with our federal counterparts. Mahsi.

Government of the Northwest Territories Culture and Heritage Circle Awards Recipient Alfred Taneton
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.