This is page numbers 6289 - 6352 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

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 1:33 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 6289

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Mr. Clerk, would you ascertain that the honourable Commissioner Margaret Thom is ready to enter the Chambers to assent to bills.

Assent to Bills
Prayer

Page 6289

Commissioner Of The Northwest Territories Hon. Margaret Thom

Please be seated. Mr. Speaker and Members of the Legislative Assembly, good afternoon. As Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, I am pleased to assent to the following Bills:

  • Bill 25: An Act to Amend the Workers' Compensation Act
  • Bill 36: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Resources Act
  • Bill 37: An Act to Amend the Oil and Gas Operations Act
  • Bill 39: Environmental Rights Act
  • Bill 40: Smoking Control and Reduction Act
  • Bill 41: Tobacco and Vapour Products Control Act
  • Bill 42: An Act to Amend the Petroleum Products Tax Act
  • Bill 43: An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act
  • Bill 46: Public Land Act
  • Bill 48: Post-Secondary Education Act
  • Bill 54: Standard Interest Rate Statutes Amendment Act
  • Bill 56: An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, No. 2
  • Bill 57: An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act
  • Bill 58: Justice Administration Statutes Amendment Act.

Mahsi cho, thank you, quyanainni, merci beaucoup, koana.

Assent to Bills
Prayer

Page 6289

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Ministers' statements. The Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 237-18(3): Minister Late
Ministers' Statements

Page 6289

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the honourable Robert C. McLeod will be late arriving in the House today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 237-18(3): Minister Late
Ministers' Statements

Page 6289

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 238-18(3): Seniors Report
Ministers' Statements

Page 6289

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, seniors and elders hold a unique place throughout our territory. They are our mentors, they are caregivers, and the wealth of knowledge and wisdom that they provide is beneficial to all Northwest Territories' residents. Seniors and elders are also the fastest-growing population in the Northwest Territories, and there is a need to understand how our government programs and services are supporting them now, as well as into the future.

As outlined in the priorities of the 18th Legislative Assembly, our government committed to taking action so that seniors in the NWT can age in place. We are dedicated to supporting our seniors and elders so that they can live in their homes for as long as possible, surrounded by family and community. Ensuring that appropriate supports, programs, and services are available is essential to the fulfillment of this commitment.

The development of the Continuing Care Services Action Plan is one of the ways that the Department of Health and Social Services is taking action on this commitment. The successful implementation of this plan requires strong partnerships and integration across all regions of the territory. We are collaborating with partners across all health authorities and GNWT Departments, as well as local community governments and non-government organizations to make it happen.

For example, our partnership with the NWT Housing Corporation has found new space for adult day programming in four new independent housing complexes for seniors and elders in small communities. This dedicated space makes it possible for regional health centres to partner with communities to offer socialization and other supports to help seniors and elders to remain in their communities longer.

The department has also collaborated with the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, and the Tlicho Community Services Agency to design and develop the Paid Family/Caregiver Pilot Program. Initial implementation of the pilot begins this October and involves engaging with interested parties in select communities.

Mr. Speaker, it is projected that seniors and elders will make up over 20 percent of our territory's population by 2035. The time is now for the GNWT and its partners to better understand what challenges and opportunities exist when it comes to supporting these valued members of our communities. That is why, in November 2017, I committed to working with the NWT Seniors' Society to identify how seniors and elders in our territory access 16 different programs and services available to them, which are broken down into the following categories: health and wellness; housing; income assistance; law and victim services; and community services.

As a result, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to release the Report on Seniors' Access to Programs and Services, which was developed in partnership with the NWT Seniors' Society. This report provides an important snapshot of the senior and elder population in the Northwest Territories and outlines how they accessed government programs and services in 2017-2018. With this information, the GNWT and its partners are better able to understand what challenges and opportunities exist when it comes to supporting the fastest-growing demographic in the Northwest Territories.

This report was truly an all-of-government initiative and its development was led by the Departments of Finance and Executive and Indigenous Affairs, with contributions from: the Department of Health and Social Services; the Department of Education, Culture and Employment; the Department of Justice; the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs; and the NWT Housing Corporation.

The report has shown that the Government of the Northwest Territories generally offers the same types of programs found in other jurisdictions and, in some cases, provides additional supports and programs which reflect the unique geographic, cultural, and regional characteristics of NWT seniors and elders. With this information, the GNWT is better able to identify gaps in support and inform future planning for program and service delivery to seniors.

In considering how the report's findings can be used to enhance program effectiveness and ensure that all NWT residents have equitable access to supports in their communities, we will also draw from a new interRAI Clinical Information System to help identify regional trends.

InterRAI is an internationally recognized, evidence-based assessment system that is widely used in healthcare sectors throughout Canada, and is part of our Continuing Care and Services Action Plan. The interRAI homecare and long-term care assessment tools are user-friendly, person-centered, and standardized to provide comprehensive data and information that guide provision of care according an individual's needs.

Mr. Speaker, we are in the process of implementing the interRAI system across the Northwest Territories health and social services system. InterRAI will provide case managers, homecare professionals, and long-term care facilities with:

  • identification, prevention, and management of emerging and potential resident or client risks;
  • access to assessment information;
  • outcome measures to improve quality care;
  • enhanced data quality with the use of a standardized data set;
  • information to report on continuing care quality indicators; and
  • reliable data for monitoring quality of care and evaluation of residents.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has been making investments and taking action to help our aging population remain in their communities for as long as possible. We also understand the importance of fostering cooperation and partnerships between our government and non-governmental organizations to achieve our goal of providing the best care and best health for a better future.

For example, we are working collaboratively with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, the NWT Seniors' Society, and the NWT Recreation and Parks Association to engage seniors and elders at the community level and encourage them to stay active. We have also partnered with NWT Recreation and Parks to support the Functional Fitness for Falls certification program to decrease the number of falls and ensure safer care environments for our seniors and elders. Additionally, we are supporting and encouraging the use of the NWT Association of Communities' Built Environment Guide and Healthy Communities Toolkit.

Part of our ongoing commitment to NWT seniors and elders is to support public awareness about senior and elder abuse. We are continuing work with the NWT Seniors' Society and with the health authorities to develop elder abuse screening tools and protocols for intervention, as well as support.

Seniors and elders are important contributors to the health and well-being of our communities, and it is important that we work together to better understand how we can support them to live active, healthy lives for as long as possible in their home communities. The Seniors' Report provides our government with a holistic perspective on the programs and services that we offer, and I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the NWT Seniors' Society for their enormous contributions to its creation. It is my hope that we will continue to work together on future initiatives to improve access to supports for our seniors and elders. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 238-18(3): Seniors Report
Ministers' Statements

Page 6291

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Minister's Statement 239-18(3): Housing for Vulnerable Populations
Ministers' Statements

Page 6291

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Addressing the housing needs of vulnerable people, including seniors, single people, and homeless individuals, has been a key priority of this government and all Members of this legislature. The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is addressing the housing challenges faced by vulnerable groups through its investments and infrastructure projects.

On August 1, 2019, we opened the new seniors' nine-plex building in Fort McPherson. This building is one of five that were designed in collaboration with the Department of Health and Social Services and with input from the community. These new independent living facilities will allow seniors to remain in their home community and be near their families, part of our commitment to helping elders age in place while enabling them to have access to important support services. The seniors' nine-plex design includes modern features that will help residents in their day-to-day living and common areas to promote supportive programming and socializing.

Along with giving seniors the opportunity to age in place in their communities, these projects also play an integral part in alleviating strain on the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation's public housing stock.

The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has a commitment to address the need for more units for single people. One key piece of feedback from our Housing Engagement Survey was that there is a need for singles' housing in Inuvik. On August 2nd, we opened up a 17-unit singles' building in Inuvik to replace the old Sydney Apartment Building. This investment is part of the corporation's ongoing work to meet the housing needs of Northwest Territories residents by increasing the availability of safe, affordable housing that reflects community values and priorities.

The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is working to help residents vulnerable to homelessness in the territory through the Northern Pathways to Housing Pilot Program. This initiative aims to address homelessness outside Yellowknife by providing supportive housing programs for single adults who are experiencing housing instability. We now have three Northern Pathways programs up and running that include multi-year contribution agreements with partners who will provide support programs for the residents.

Mr. Speaker, vulnerable people often face unstable housing conditions. Our government has focused its housing infrastructure investments to meet the needs of vulnerable residents and the priorities of the communities. The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has worked to develop housing options for vulnerable people and to provide them with safe, secure, and stable housing for years to come. We are coming to the end of our term as a government and as an Assembly, but I do have faith that this work will continue, because it is the right thing to do. Thank you and mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 239-18(3): Housing for Vulnerable Populations
Ministers' Statements

Page 6291

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 240-18(3): Post-Secondary Education Update
Ministers' Statements

Page 6292

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to ensuring that the people of the Northwest Territories have access to a wealth of high-quality post-secondary education opportunities. Educated citizens are critical to a healthy northern society and a strong and prosperous economy. Our government is acting on the 18th Assembly's mandate priorities to expand opportunities for post-secondary education, trades-oriented learning, and northern educational institutions, and to foster the knowledge economy.

Mr. Speaker, we have developed the territory's first-ever overarching post-secondary education legislation, which regulates post-secondary institutions operating in the territory. This is a critical step in expanding high-quality education programming and providing a greater variety of post-secondary opportunities. The new quality assurance measures in the legislation will help us build a strong and sustainable post-secondary education system.

Later today, at the appropriate time, I will also table the post-secondary education vision and goals developed through engagement with residents and Indigenous governments, as part of the post-secondary education framework. Our government is committed to an ongoing process of collaboration with post-secondary education institutions and key stakeholders from across the territory as we continue to improve the post-secondary education system.

Through community engagement, we have developed our government's post-secondary education vision. The vision statement is that every resident of the Northwest Territories has an equitable opportunity to reach their full potential by obtaining a post-secondary education from institutions that are student-centred, accessible, high-quality, relevant, and accountable. We have also identified goals to achieve our vision. We know we must prioritize student success, increase access to post-secondary education opportunities, remain responsive to labour demands in the NWT, remain responsive to local and regional needs, and support the growth of the knowledge economy.

We are already working toward our goals as the transformation of Aurora College into a polytechnic university moves forward. I am pleased to announce another project milestone: the terms of reference for the academic advisory council are complete and available on the departmental website. The academic advisory council is not a governing body for the institution; however, it will provide expert guidance throughout the transformation. The full list of member institutions from across Canada will be confirmed in the coming weeks. I look forward to the significant academic and administrative experience the council will bring to the transformation process.

Mr. Speaker, this fall, as recommended in the government's response to the Aurora College foundational review, Aurora College will be developing a three-year strategic plan. This strategic plan will guide the college while the institution strengthens its foundations and plans for the transformation. The college will develop its strategic plan through engagement in campus communities, regional centres, and at least one small community in each education region.

Once the transformation is complete, the new polytechnic university will provide students with challenging, relevant, and accessible post-secondary education opportunities. The Department of Education is already piloting a new team of career and education advisors to help students plan for these opportunities, starting as early as grade seven. The advisors will help students make education decisions that keep them on a pathway to the job or career of their choice. They will also provide youth with current information about jobs in the Northwest Territories that will have a high demand for workers, both today and in the future.

The NWT labour market data forecasts that 78 percent of these jobs will require post-secondary education. We will continue to support NWT post-secondary students through Student Financial Assistance, apprenticeship, and labour market programs. All of these initiatives support the development of our people and our economy.

Mr. Speaker, I am confident that we are taking the right steps today to strengthen our post-secondary education system and to provide more opportunities to our residents in the years to come. Ması, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 240-18(3): Post-Secondary Education Update
Ministers' Statements

Page 6292

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Colleagues, please allow me to draw your attention to the presence at the clerks' table here today of Mr. Anthony W.J. Whitford. As many of you know, former Commissioner, former Speaker, former Minister, former Member, former Sergeant-at-Arms, honorary Clerk at the table, and Member of the Order of the NWT. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Whitford to the House this afternoon. It is always great to have you here as part of our team. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Hay River North.

Recognition of "Buffalo" Joe McBryan
Members' Statements

Page 6293

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday Mr. Joe McBryan of Hay River, known to many as Buffalo Joe, was awarded the Order of the Northwest Territories. The Order recognizes those who have served with great distinction and excellence in any field of work benefiting the people of the Northwest Territories or elsewhere. It is the highest official honour that the Northwest Territories can bestow upon a current or former resident.

To many of the people I spoke with, Buffalo Joe's induction into the Order came as a surprise: not because they thought he was undeserving; they were surprised that he hadn't already been inducted long ago.

Joe McBryan founded Buffalo Airways in 1970. As with any business that's been around nearly 50 years, there have been ups and downs. After spending the first decade building the company, the downturn in the mining industry hit Buffalo hard, and its fleet was reduced to a single aircraft. That single plane, a DC-3, of course, was all that Buffalo Joe needed to get back on track. Today Buffalo Airways has a fleet of 52 registered aircraft; bases in Hay River, Yellowknife, and Red Deer; is the largest courier service in the NWT; has a successful line of merchandise; and has gained international notoriety and legions of fans with Ice Pilots NWT, the TV series that featured the day-to-day operations of Buffalo and ran for six seasons.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, he had some help along the way, notably his children who have been, and still are, instrumental in the business.

However, Buffalo Joe is the heart of Buffalo Airways, and he's the reason that Buffalo has become part of the very fabric of the Northwest Territories. We can't talk about the history of the NWT without talking about Buffalo Joe, and not just because of what he did, but also because of how he did it.

When people talk about Buffalo Joe, people in Hay River, at least, they speak most often about his kindness and his humility. It's pretty ironic that he's become world-famous, because he has never sought the limelight, and he doesn't even like receiving accolades for the good he has done, and he has done more than most, Mr. Speaker. For buffalo Joe, a community resupply is not just a contract; it's a way to help people, and stories about the lengths he has gone to to ensure people have gotten what they needed are legendary. He has helped out countless people and families in need. If you really needed to get somewhere but did not have the money, he would make sure you got to your destination. That was especially true for elders. Even if an elder showed up with a ticket, there is a good chance he would tell them to hold onto it and use it another time. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Recognition of "Buffalo" Joe McBryan
Members' Statements

Page 6293

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

If a loved one gets sick or passes away and you need to be by their side or to mourn, he will help you get to them and ask nothing in return. If you had to spend Christmas at the hospital in Edmonton away from your family, he would make sure that you got your Christmas gifts free of charge.

Mr. Speaker, these are just a few of the examples of Buffalo Joe's acts of generosity, and, when you consider that he has been at it for nearly half a century, you know that there are countless more. These are the reasons that Buffalo Joe McBryan was inducted into the Order of the NWT. I want to thank him for all he has done and congratulate him on receiving a well-deserved honour. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.