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

Recognition of "Buffalo" Joe McBryan
Members' Statements

Page 6293

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

National Pharmacare
Members' Statements

Page 6293

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. In June, the National Advisory Council on the Implementation of National Pharmacare released its final report, containing the recommendation that the Government of Canada work in partnership with provincial and territorial governments to establish universal, single-payer, public prescription drug coverage for all Canadians. As the only nation in the world with a public healthcare system that does not include prescription medicine coverage, this improvement is long overdue.

A universal national system would extend coverage to include the estimated one in five uninsured or underinsured Canadians who cannot afford prescription medicines. The report says Canadian families would save an average of $350 per year and businesses would get relief from the increasing costs of employee drug coverage, a $750 saving per employee per year.

This work is recommended to begin with the establishment of a Canadian drug agency, which would be responsible for developing a national list of prescription drugs. First would be a list or "formulary" of essential medicines by January 1, 2022, and a full formulary developed by January 1, 2027. Ultimately, all Canadians would have access to the same range of medications. A parallel program with dedicated funds is proposed for the more expensive rare-disease medications. Through the new drug agency, it is proposed that the approval process for drugs be streamlined so that Canadians can get faster access to new, innovative drugs.

The advisory council's report also makes the case for a single-payer public system that would provide total savings up to $5 billion per year for governments, businesses, and individuals, through pharmacare's stronger negotiating power and lower administration costs. The council recommends that Canadians and employers continue to be able to purchase supplementary private insurance.

Our government has been, as I understand, a full participant in the deliberations leading up to that report. I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services on the status of our involvement and next steps in this process. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

National Pharmacare
Members' Statements

Page 6294

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Land Administration and Management
Members' Statements

Page 6294

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Northwest Territories covers 1.3 million square kilometres, with a population of less than most southern cities. This vast area is rich in culture, natural resources, and a potential in a number of sectors that is beyond our comprehension, especially for those who spend considerable time in smaller communities. They would envision and understand the potential.

Mr. Speaker, as legislators and stewards of this great territory, acknowledging this potential and allowing land access developments is truly our demonstration on our abilities to balance our responsibilities in a meaningful approach while addressing the social challenges faced by our small communities.

Our lands department was created by the NWT Devolution Agreement. Remarkable achievements are occurring within this new division. Our neighbours to the West hold and held devolution responsibilities for the past 16 years, but there still remain two land administration pieces.

Mr. Speaker, the process of legislation modernization is a healthy and prudent element of land management and administration. Having one administration simplifies and clarifies our complex regime. There remains a large amount of work to be done. I am confident that drafting our new regulations will only simplify the working relationship between our Government of the Northwest Territories and the stakeholders. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Land Administration and Management
Members' Statements

Page 6294

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Land Rights Agreements
Members' Statements

Page 6294

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the 18th Assembly began, we had high hopes for the completion of land rights agreements, enough so that we enshrined the commitment in our mandate.

Mr. Speaker, I have said it several times in this Chamber: many of our priority areas cannot go forward until land rights agreements are resolved. Without them, we cannot move on many areas of economic diversification and growth; our goals in health, social just, and education are delayed; we will be set back in developing tourism, resolving land use questions, and dealing with a whole host of other public matters.

The Northwest Territories needs these agreements in place. With certainty on land rights and self-government in place, communities and regions will be able to build their own priorities, grow their own economies, and put their own people to work. They will see a future. For our system to work, we must empower Indigenous governments with authority to achieve self-determination.

Mr. Speaker, we are now at the end of the 18th Assembly. While some positive progress has been made, none of the major agreements, the Deh Cho, the Akaitcho, and Metis, have been concluded. This is not the outcome any of us had hoped for.

That said, we know it is a complex and detailed job and not always completely under our control. Indeed, I offer my respect and appreciation to the people charged with the task. I think it's fair to say it is the biggest challenge facing public governance in our territory, and, as we know, this has been going on for a lifetime. Northerners know how important these agreements are. They know what depends on fair resolution of these issues, and, like all of us in this House, they want to see this job done. They want certainty.

Mr. Speaker, these issues will not go away. The job of negotiating and seeking solutions on the remaining land rights and self-government agreements will now fall to the Members of the 19th Assembly. Without question, it will be one of their highest priorities, and, Mr. Speaker, I know it will remain one of mine. Thank you.

Land Rights Agreements
Members' Statements

Page 6294

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Eligibility for Home Improvement Funding
Members' Statements

Page 6294

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. It is getting harder and harder for our lower-income families to make ends meet. These days, people have to scrimp and save every penny to pay the bills. This often means that things which were once considered a necessity, like insurance, are becoming a luxury that people cannot afford.

According to a 2018 study by JD Power, the average annual home insurance premium in Western Canada is $1,200, meaning is it likely to be even higher in the North, and, with the catastrophes wrought by climate change, insurance costs are on the rise. When it comes to the choice between spending $100 per month on food for your children versus paying the money to an insurance company for peace of mind, I know what choice most people would make.

[Translation] just not long ago, I talked to the chief of K'atlodeeche First Nation. They wanted to fix their house, but they could not because Northwest Territories Housing Corporation said no. So a lot of them do not have any homes, like the Katlo Deedhe, too, and we need to do that. That is why we need to do these things. We need to review it. We need to look at it. [Translation ends]. Under these programs, their household income must be below the core need income threshold for their community, which means that these people are of modest means. Most of them have worked very hard to be able to own their own homes, and they have a long history of being responsible and independent.

It is important for people who own their homes to keep up with repairs. Routine maintenance can help lower heating costs and keep a home safe and cozy. Other repairs such as roofing or structural improvements require specialized work, but they are also important for ensuring that a house will be liveable for many years to come.

While I can understand that the Housing Corporation wants to make sure their investment in these homes is protected, the requirement for homeowners insurance is a big barrier to accessing the program. As my constituent pointed out, for some seniors, it's not just an affordability issue. Sometimes, people get denied for other reasons. As he pointed out, "It is not like seniors have a right that the insurance companies must honour." In the North, people have the added challenge that they can't shop around for the best insurance rates. In Hay River, there is only one insurance provider. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Eligibility for Home Improvement Funding
Members' Statements

Page 6295

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I would like to challenge the NWT Housing Corporation to be more flexible in how it applies its policies. If an applicant doesn't have homeowner's insurance, instead of turning the applicant away, why doesn't the NWTHC let them apply a portion of the loan to pay for the insurance? That way, the applicant can still get needed repairs, plus help funding the cost of insurance. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Eligibility for Home Improvement Funding
Members' Statements

Page 6295

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan
Members' Statements

August 21st, 2019

Page 6295

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I welcome the release this week of the Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan. This plan responds to the Office of the Auditor General's report last year about the ways in which government continued to fail kids in care despite a 2014 Office of the Auditor General report that identified many of the same problems.

The plan stresses how improving outcomes for the 1,000 children in care in the Northwest Territories must be achieved, specifically by complying with the policies and legislation that govern their care. Some highlights of the plan for me come from the cultural safety and respect section, including:

  • growing the Indigenous workforce within Child and Family Services;
  • developing a family preservation program that strengthens partnerships within communities;
  • improving communications with Indigenous communities to support and care for children and families in their communities; and
  • exploring options agreements with these communities to increase their role within Child and Family Services.

All of these actions are described as "on track," and I am looking forward to continuous reporting that demonstrates this is the case.

I do, however, have some concerns. The first is about the sheer number of action items, 70 in all. That's a lot of balls to keep in the air, as we all know. I am also concerned that there is an almost single-minded focus on process. I understand that process leads to outcomes, but one of the most important findings of the Auditor General's report is that social workers needed to spend more time with the kids and less time at their desks. The outcome I most want to see is that mandatory check-ins and time with children in care is not only met but exceeded. My final observation is that the plan doesn't reflect the systemic issues that drive neglect, including low income, inadequate housing, and a lack of food. We need to think about how to keep children out of care altogether as well as what happens to them when they are in care.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to repeat my call for a debate about creating a child and youth advocate for the Northwest Territories. Children in care have rights, including the right to be heard and treated fairly. A child advocate can link the different players in the child's life to further his or her interests. I believe that better services for children include this key position, and I will continue to advocate for it. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan
Members' Statements

Page 6296

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Recognition of Gabe Hardisty
Members' Statements

Page 6296

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to would like to speak about a respected elder from Wrigley, Mr. Gabe Hardisty. Gabe Hardisty was born in the bush, just outside Wrigley, on September 21, 1945. He spent the first 13 years of his life with his parents learning his language and culture and traditional ways.

In 1959, at the age of 14, he went off to school for the first time in his life. He travelled up to Inuvik. In 1960, Mr. Hardisty went to Fort Simpson, where he spent the next four years of his life. He is very proud to say that he completed grade seven, and it has helped him throughout his life.

Mr. Speaker, in speaking with Mr. Hardisty, we talked about his love for hunting and trapping. In the wintertime, he would travel about 200 miles a week with his cousin David Horassi by dog team to check things out. It was an 80-mile trip into the mountain with three routes to choose from once there. One season, they trapped over 60 martins.

As for his hunting, it was about providing for his and the extended family. They would average about five moose a year. When we chatted about his dog team, he would say with a big smile it was the best thing about being outdoors, not like today with snowmobiles.

Mr. Hardisty met with the Iove of his life, Elsie. They had three daughter, three granddaughters, one grandson, and one great-granddaughter.

Ever since I have known Mr. Hardisty, he has been involved in the community and regional politics. It started in 1972, when he was elected to band council and later on became the chief. He is still passionate about the politics even now. He presently sits on the Elders Committee and on the Dehcho Business Development Board.

When asked what advice he would give to people wishing to get into politics, he would say get to know the people you are going to represent, know what the job is all about and what things need to be accomplished. This way, when you step into your role, you have a clear understanding of what needs to be done and what is your responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Mr. Hardisty for his continued commitment to the Nahendeh and the Deh Cho region and the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition of Gabe Hardisty
Members' Statements

Page 6296

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Waste Resource Management and Single-Use Plastics Ban
Members' Statements

Page 6296

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise on a multifaceted issue that several constituents have brought to my attention: single-use plastics and the sustainability of our economy and environment. Earlier this year, the federal government announced its intention to ban single-use plastics by 2021. This would be following suit to many jurisdictions around the world which have been responding to the appalling amount of plastic waste clogging waterways, polluting lands and water sources, poisoning our food, and killing marine life en masse.

I am happy to see that the GNWT has announced the beginning of the process to address waste reduction through the recently published Waste Resource Management Strategy and Implementation Plan. I hope that the next Assembly will continue to advocate and take a lead in the process of banning single-use plastics and other waste management strategies. The capacity to achieve this already exists locally in the NWT. Some vendors have already begun using compostable take-away containers, and I feel we should investigate other northern solutions to this problem. I also feel that we should be incentivizing this shift in behaviour by providing cash incentives and supporting waste management projects in our private sector.

For example, the Vuntut Gwitchin people from the community of Old Crow, Yukon, began down this path in 2012 with the commissioning of a waste-to-energy facility. Since 2014, the facility has been operating and cleanly destroys up to three batches of 1.5 tonnes each per day of waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

This is but one part of the solution to the multifaceted problem of waste management that we face as a society. The GNWT can also take on a leading role on this matter. We have ENR offices all throughout our territory which could be used as collection points for recyclable materials. We can incentivize the use of compostable over single-use plastics, and we should be banning products like Styrofoam.

There are already a lot of people and groups around the world working on these issues. Conferences are held regularly. There is funding available from Ottawa and from philanthropic NGOs. I hope that we will all do our part to try to clean up our world and set a clearer path forward for future generations and ensure that the transition to a single-use plastic ban is done in a way that supports our private sector and supports those who are most concerned about this, individual families, households, business community, Indigenous governments, small communities who lack access to recycling facilities. We need a real plan that brings those resources to bear and ensure that we have a sound waste management system before this ban comes in place. Thank you Mr. Speaker.