Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have served 12 years in the Legislative Assembly. For people who don't realize how long that is, I will tell you a little story.
Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to work with a well-known MLA named Tom Butters, and Mr. Butters said to me, "I want you to go to Kugluktuk, and go talk to the MLA up there about housing." One thing led to another, and Mr. Peterson and I had a discussion about many things, one of which was the length of time that MLAs spend in the Legislative Assembly.
This, I would say, was in about the mid-1990s at that time, maybe a little bit earlier, but Mr. Peterson said to me, "Did you know that the average time that an MLA spends in the Legislative Assembly is four years?" He said, "Not much longer than four years." I didn't know that. At that time, I thought it must be longer than that; there are guys who have served forever. He said, "I'm not saying that it is four years because that's generally the term, but some people serve less than that, and overall, the average is not much longer than four years."
You look around the room. I mean, there are people in here who served four years, but there are people in here who have served a long time. I am one of those people. I had the opportunity to serve the people of Tu Nedhe for 12 years, and I had the opportunity to serve the people of Wiilideh for four years. At that time, I thought that that would be an easy job to do, working in the Legislative Assembly for four years, 10 years, 12 years, whatever it takes. It is a great job, but it is also the most difficult job I think that anybody could have.
People who serve in the Legislative Assembly know what it is like to be able to advocate for your people and do work for your people. At the end of the day, you still have to go back four years later. No matter what a good job you have done, you are still going to have opposition; you are still going to have people who are not happy with you; you are still going to have people who don't want you in the Legislative Assembly, whether you address every issue or not. I'm not trying to be ungrateful, Mr. Speaker, but to say that the reason that this job is so difficult is because it is so thankless.
We do what we can to help people, and then, at the end of the day, there are a lot of good things that we do with each other. We meet a lot of friends in the Assembly, but at the end of the day, it is something that I find quite difficult. I am not going to stand up here and be negative, but I would like to touch on some of the issues that I have encountered during my 12 years in the Legislative Assembly.
I would like to talk a little bit about the issues that I encountered 12 years ago. Twelve years ago, when I got here, I thought, "What are the main issues?" I had a background in housing, and I worked for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as well, before I came here. I realized that working in social housing was a difficult job. That was the most difficult thing to do, because I had been there so long, and I had been working on it. I thought about the whole idea and the plan, and what the idea of housing was, was that the Housing Corporation was put in place in 1974 to be able to house the people of the Northwest Territories who could not afford to house themselves. At some point, Mr. Speaker, the Housing Corporation was to divest the housing that they were renting out through the public housing program.
I thought, "Well, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me," until I started working in it, and started to realize, yes, it is designed that way for a good reason. The good reason is that, if a Housing Corporation continues to retain its public housing inventory and does not divest the public housing once the CMHC mortgage is paid off, then they will have to come back to the GNWT for more money. I don't think that that was the intent. I think that the intent of divesting public housing was so that the communities could have a market.
At some point, whether we call it a quasi-market, no market, a strong market, or a weak market, it would have a market. What you have in a market, Mr. Speaker, is you have investment, personal investment. When you own a house, as many of us do in this Assembly, you take care of your house so that you don't have huge bills. You make sure that the house is something that you can pass on. You make sure that the house remains in the family, and when there is something that needs to be done, you go down to the hardware store or anywhere else, or order materials if you are in a small community, in order to make sure that the house is maintained, and that you are continuing to build a market. I thought that the Housing Corporation should go in that direction.
Many years ago, as I said, when I was in the Housing Corporation, I thought, you know, the Housing Corporation would have huge economic spinoffs if we were able to divest ourselves of the public housing that we no longer need as public housing. It wasn't like we were reducing the amount of housing that we had for the people. Mr. Speaker, we were going to maintain the same amount of houses, but instead of the people of the Northwest Territories paying for 2,400 public housing units, they would be maybe paying for, at the end of the day, 1,400 public housing units, because there are people in public housing that could afford to operate their own houses.
Also, I thought, "Well, if the people in public housing were to own their own houses, what would be needed?" That is something that I stood up in this House and talked about a lot, and that is employment. I thought, well, how do we as the Government of the Northwest Territories create employment? Well, there's a lot of employment in fixing up houses, for example. By giving people in the Northwest Territories the programs and the contribution agreements and fixing up the houses, that would create a bit of an economy, and dividing the difference between what the core need of housing is and what the affordable housing is. So many people have the two mixed up completely.
I asked the Minister, the previous Minister, in this Assembly if the Department of Infrastructure could solve housing issues, if they could eliminate core needs, and she said no, it's the responsibility of the NWT Housing Corporation. However, if we have housing that you can't afford, and yet it's got all the adequacy and it's suitable for your family, and then you got a better job, and I was just thinking of one particular example, and that was to talk about a job as an equipment operator on a highway. That solves the core need issue, because the guy can now afford his house. So that just kind of proves that was never a core need issue; it's an affordable housing issue.
Other issues that I have encountered were health issues. When I talk about health issues, I'm not just specifically talking about the physical health of an individual. I'm talking about everything that the Department of Health is to the people of the Northwest Territories. The Department of Health is probably, I would say, the most difficult department that we have in the Northwest Territories. There's no question in my mind. If you look at the fact that Health is involved with individuals from before they are born until they pass away, there's no break. That's the way it is. The Department of Health has a prenatal program; they have programs that assist young women when they are carrying; then right up until they're born, and they continue on, to continue to support the individual as they age, and they go right up until the individual is sick, gets into the hospital, and passes away. That department has to take care of all of that.
I thought about that a lot, and I thought, "That's a very, very expensive department." Yellowknife, I stood up in the House here and said, "We spend over $1 million a day on the Department of Health." Well, it's well over that. The government knows; they're spending maybe $1.3, maybe $1.4 million a day on healthcare. I thought about something that a former Member had often spoken about in the House, and that was prevention. Why is it that we are so caught up in trying to help people get healthy that we're not preventing them from getting sick? I know there's work on prevention. It's not like nothing happens, but it's to think about something. To think about stop treating people who are sick and prevent them from getting sick.
One of the main sicknesses, I found as I came into the Assembly, was alcoholism. To be able to take alcohol out of our communities and prevent people from becoming alcoholics would be some very, very important and very strategic work.
At one time in my 12 years, for a short time period, I served as the Minister of Health and Social Services. I travelled to the communities. I wanted to go to the communities and talk to the staff. So I went to the first community I arrived in, in a small community. I talked to a nurse, and I asked the nurse what she thought. What she thought was the greatest cost driver in the system, and it's in all of the system. I know that aging people are a great cost driver, and the Minister knows that, and everything, but something that can be prevented. She said it was alcohol. She said, in her community, there is a tremendous amount of money paid out in overtime to the staff, and a lot of money just paid out shipping individuals, medevacing people, sending people on medical travel, and so on, because of alcohol.
I thought, well, maybe we need to start working on alcohol and start to prevent people from it, and talking about alcohol, and discussing it and being open about it, and not being afraid to confront it. Not being afraid to say, "Your main issue in your community is alcohol." That's what we have to do, Mr. Speaker. We need to be upfront and say, "This is your issue, and people have to do something about that." That's hard work, and that's going to be something, I'm sure, that our government is working towards, and has made strides, Mr. Speaker.
Some of the contracts that our Minister was able to negotiate in other jurisdictions are good. The treatment facilities that we have contracts with are very good. I think there are more treatment facilities that we could sign up with; well, we can't sign up with every one, so once we've picked them, are good, but to try to prevent people from going there, I think, is very important.
I always felt that early childhood development was the greatest investment that anyone could make anywhere. One time, I went to Saskatoon, and we were at a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder conference. I was talking to some of the people there, I guess the practitioners that were in there, and it was universally accepted knowledge, across our country, anyway, that spending on early childhood development had returns of 7:1 and as high as 10:1, depending on what happens. I know that's long-term. It's difficult for a government that is in place for four years to begin the process to put lots of emphasis on early childhood development so that kid who is entering kindergarten ends up graduating, increasing the opportunities and the chance for that individual to graduate. For the individual who graduates compared to one who doesn't graduate, the opportunities for employment go up by 25 percent; and that's only grade 12. You can't get higher education if you don't have grade 12.
So that becomes, basically, the most important job, the most important function, was to get the individuals into early childhood development; make sure you start at junior kindergarten; make sure you start prior to junior kindergarten; going back to prenatal spending, and so on, to be able to, at the end of the day, 12 years later, as long as I've been in the House, when I entered the House, the kids who were going into grade one have just graduated last June. So, had we had that type of thing in place and a heavier emphasis on spending the money on them when they were first entering school, spending the money on them before they enter school, before they hit junior kindergarten, we would see the results today, huge results, but our graduation rates have not gone up significantly, and that is something that we need to start working on.
If I have a message for the next Assembly at all, it would be that we need to start working on early childhood development so that the money we spent on those individuals who graduate, who go on to higher education, the return on that is 10:1.
For me, I say that could be one of the most important work that we have. There are huge economic spin-offs, just to the spending of early childhood dollars. When we go to spend money on early childhood, then we have, again, some economic spin-offs like we would if we were spending money on the NWT Housing or on housing, period.
I would like to talk a bit about employment, like I said. I talked about employment a lot in the House. Over my 12 years, that may be one of the topics I spoke most of, was employment, because it is so important. We put it in our mandate this time around to say we are going to put an emphasis on an area which needs employment the most. That is small communities.
I have often said that all boats shall rise. I have used that term in the House. All boats shall rise. When you start putting money in small communities, you see the impacts in the regional centres. Then you see the impacts in Yellowknife. I have seen that. I have seen the community of Lutselk'e. Many times, I have been in Lutselk'e. I have gone there by snowmobile many times. When you see what is going on in the community, when the area around Lutselk'e is packed with skidoo tracks, the spin-off is felt here in Yellowknife. People here in Yellowknife are selling snowmobiles to those people. People here in Yellowknife are selling boats and kickers to the people of Lutselk'e when there are jobs there. When there is employment in Lutselk'e, the whole NWT benefits fiscally. Our government benefits fiscally, as well.
Employment in all areas, housing, we have a small community employment support program that we have put together, I think, over the last six years. Maybe there is a bit of money there. Then this government has put more money into it, and more money is needed in that area.
I would like to talk a bit about the Home Care Program. When the federal government was elected, one of the things the Liberal government did was they paid particular attention to homecare. It was interesting that people who looked at this and thought, "Well, what is that? We are putting money into homecare?" People don't realize the huge spin-off benefits of homecare along with the Housing Corporation introducing aging in place, which there is not enough money in there to keep people in their homes. At some point, there are programs that can do that.
I had always said that, as soon as the federal government started talking about the Home Care Program, I thought, "Yes. These guys are going in the right direction." I think we should put, as a government, our government, more money into homecare to prevent people from going into long-term care. I know that the government has looked at long-term care and has factored in homecare, but not enough. There is not enough of a factor going into homecare.
For every individual, even if it is a couple, who goes into long-term care, it costs the government, it costs the long-term care facility $140,000. I use the number $140,000. It could be up from that by now. I just use the $140,000 all the time just to emphasize that, if a couple went from their home and they are forced into long-term care because they don't have homecare services and the home is not equipped for them, they haven't made it barrier-free so individuals had to go in there, then, over 10 years, our government will spend $2.8 million in housing those two individuals. It will cost a small fraction of that to keep them in their homes.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to just touch a bit on another economy that is going to go hand-in-hand with something that is going on this week. That is the opening of the national park, Thaidene Nene. In the Thaidene Nene National Park, it is not just the Parks Canada, it is also the GNWT. The GNWT took its tools and attached sections of land on to Thaidene Nene, and the GNWT passed a Protected Areas Act. Working with the Protected Areas Act, Parks Canada, and everything, I think there is a huge opportunity for conservation economy. A conservation economy is a good, clean economy that the people of a small community can do, the people of small communities love.
We have Canadian rangers in almost all of our communities. We have some Guardians in Deh Cho. I believe we have some Guardians in Sahtu. I am not 100 percent sure about that, Mr. Speaker. I do know we have Guardians in Thaidene Nene, called Nihat'Ni People. When you apply a socio-economic model to the spending that goes to employing the Nihat'Ni Dene, the socio-economic model set the return to 2.5:1 right now on the social spending. For every dollar that you spend on Nihat'Ni Dene people, you are returning $2.50 in social spending. To me, it doesn't make any sense not to support that.
It doesn't make any sense for us not to go the Government of Canada and talk about the money they put into a conservation economy. They put $1.3 billion into a budget on a conservation economy. The very first time this was announced, there was, I think, $500 million put in the first year. Of that, $25 million was carved out, given to the Guardians in the National Guardian Network of Indigenous Network. That money was put there to develop a plan for Guardians all over the country. Those Guardians are very important to people. They are very important to the land, very important to industry. It has tremendous economic spin-off factors.
It also has an opportunity to allow industry to work with the Guardians and work with the communities in order for them to continue to provide some economic benefits to the Northwest Territories as is the settlement to the claim or the lands and resources agreement with Dehcho and Akaitcho. We have had people tell us here from the Chamber that to settle the Akaitcho claim would be worth $100 million to the economy right now, just in this area. I know the government has worked hard to try to get the claim settled. I am not saying that it is an easy job. I am say that is an important job, and it is an essential job. Not an easy job but an essential job to be able to work on signing that agreement and getting the resources agreement signed with Akaitcho, with Dehcho, and move on to allow the people of Deh Cho and Akaitcho to work with industry, to be able to have the NWT benefit from it.
Our biggest economy right now appears to be the diamond mines. They have a life. They have a finite life. There is talk about maybe 15 years, maybe 10 years, 20 years. At some point, they will stop producing. At some point, that economy will go down to virtually no economy at all in the diamond industry. Unless there are tremendous fines and so on, that is probably going to disappear. However, there are other opportunities in there, and one of the big ones is the conservation economy. There are a couple of other mines that would likely open up.
Some of us don't support the huge infrastructure, like highways and so on. I support highways. I have talked about that. I don't talk about it in the House, and I don't talk about it, because I need to discuss that with the leadership. It is something that is in the future.
For me, even the management of caribou, when we build an all-season road through the Slave Geological, we have often talked about that. What will happen? How will we manage the caribou? Well, the people up in the Beaufort Delta know that it is a lot easier to manage the migrating caribou herds on the all-season road. There's no question. You could close down the road, because there are no pressures to have one vehicle hauling to the diamond mines every 10 minutes in the wintertime during the short window, and if that is the time when the caribou are crossing, too bad. They have to go. If they don't go, they are not able to get their supplies and their fuel in there.
If you had an all-season road, which already would have shown some economic spinoffs, it's not as great as putting money into housing, but it also has some huge economic spinoffs, and it is also is very good for the caribou. Once the road is built, if the caribou are crossing, the people that built the road, our government, could close the road. We can close the road when the caribou are moving to their calving grounds, and we can close the road when the caribou are coming back. That would be less disruptive than having a vehicle on the winter road every 10 minutes for as long as the mines exist, and there may be more mines.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to just talk a bit about some of the work that I have done, and I would like to maybe send a message to somebody that may be the next MLA from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, because it's not going to be me, Mr. Speaker. Capital projects are very important to our people in small communities, infrastructure going into our small communities. In Fort Resolution 12 years ago, when I started, I was going down the highway, and I brought my two children with me. They weren't children, but they were young. They were teenagers at that time, 12 years ago. My kids are both adults now, but they were teenagers then. I asked them a question: "What do you think is needed?" My daughter, who had been in school in the south, said, "You know, Dad, I found something really interesting, and it was the youth centres." She said, "Youth centres and programs at youth centres seem to be really well-utilized by individuals." One of the first things that I started working on was to construct a youth centre in Lutselk'e, and we have one now, and we have a highway.
In my very first Member's statement, standing up in this House, I talked about the highway that goes into Fort Resolution. At that time, I think I may have referred to that highway as a "goat trail." I was probably overly critical. However, it was a highway that was built by the army. The army hasn't been around for a while, and they pushed the trees down and put some dirt and gravel on it and started driving on top of it. As the trees rotted, that highway was full of holes, but now, Highway No. 6 is paved or chipsealed, right from the beginning to the very end, into the community.
It was interesting, because one day, I went to see this guy. He doesn't like too many visitors. He's a busy guy. He works. He's an elder. He can do all kinds of things. He's an amazing man. I went to see him, and as I walked in the door, he was busy making something on metal. He stopped, and he said, "If you're here to campaign, you don't have to campaign in this house." He said, "All you have to do is make sure that this community has a highway, a good highway, so that we don't have to buy new vehicles every couple of years, bouncing over that road."
Mr. Speaker, I know that your riding has a rough highway. A lot of people damage their vehicles going between here and Behchoko. It's just the nature of the beast. In Fort Resolution, we were able to resolve that issue. That rough road is now a beautiful highway. I spoke to an old friend of my mine from Fort Smith. I met him in Fort Providence, and he said to me, "You should be proud of what happened going into Fort Resolution." He said, "That highway is like a superhighway." If you've driven it, especially when it was first done, it was beautiful. Now some of the growth has come back, but it's a beautiful highway into the community.
We came that close to having our highway chipsealed all the way before Fort Smith. I find that funny because Fort Smith was the first capital of the Northwest Territories. Maybe Fort Resolution was the first capital of the Northwest Territories if you go back far enough, Mr. Speaker, but in any event, Fort Smith is a big community. It's a regional centre, and if the parks didn't get their paving done right at the time that they did do their paving, we were half a season away from having a chipsealed road into Fort Resolution before Fort Smith. To me, that is quite an accomplishment. Fort Resolution is a small community. It's out of the way, and the highway ends there. Now we have an all-paved highway.
Mr. Speaker, in Lutselk'e, we had built a new community learning centre, but the biggest project in that community, the most important project in that community, was the school. The GNWT had the health centre as a priority, and the community had asked if we could switch the projects. Now they don't have a new health centre, but it's in the books, and it is something that is coming. I think that the government recognizes that that will be the next health centre that is replaced, but the school, it was amazing, Mr. Speaker. That school is absolutely beautiful. It went from a school that was a log school, old school, issues in the school, to something that was a beautiful school. There is a beautiful adult learning centre, brand new, in Lutselk'e.
That's one thing that I worked on all the way through, and that was because I spoke to an elder who I eulogized here this week, the late Edward Catholique, and he said to me, "Tom, we slashed that road. We slashed that road to Austin Lake many years ago." It was only 50 years ago, you know. I guess, at the same time, they started talking about Thaidene Nene. They were going to build roads into Thaidene Nene, as well, and they slashed that road all the way in. He was a young man. He was working on that, he indicated to me. He said, "That is very important." I talk about Austin Lake Road all the time in the House, because I felt it was very important to the people.
Yesterday, while we were in Lutselk'e, a guy walked up to me and said, "Tom, I'm working on Austin Lake Road. I have equipment on the Austin Lake Road, and that's where I am working right now, and we are going to continue to work on Austin Lake Road until we have an all-season road in there."
Getting back to Elder Edward, he told me, "Build that road, because that road connects the lakes to the east. It's fantastic for us to be able to go over there, pull our boats or our snowmobiles over there and start there to hunt caribou. It also connects us to the west where there's lots of moose."
It's become very important for our traditional, the hunting and so on. Even people who are still trapping, they use that road. That road's continuing. I thank the government for that. Each year, this government has put a couple of hundred thousand dollars into that road. I made a request, and they supported it. It's going to continue, and I'm very pleased, and the people are very pleased. I say, thank you. Thank you from the people of Lutselk'e.
Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank some people. Like I said, you're here for a while, work with a lot of people. I start off by thanking the people who I worked with here, in all three terms. Every term, we have people leaving. The first time I came, I came with six new people. The second time, there were five new people elected. This time, there are 11. I spoke to a lot of different people, Mr. Speaker, in the House as MLAs and as Ministers, and I'd like to thank them.
Certainly, there have been a lot of occasions when I've just gone in to see one of the Ministers or one of the MLAs to sit down and speak because sometimes, if you don't do that, it's a pretty hard burden to carry by yourself. I have a lot of people to thank. I can't mention them all here, but those are the first people I'd like to thank, Mr. Speaker.
I'd also like to thank people who I work with at the community level, and I'm going to name them, Mr. Speaker, because I have the time to do it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to thank from Lutselk'e. In Lutselk'e, there's one designated government, the Dene band. When I started, the chief was Adeline Jonasson. I worked very well with her. Followed by Steve Nitah, an excellent working relationship with Steven Nitah.
The late Antoine Michel was the chief after that. Antoine was an amazing guy. He loved the land. I never quite understood why Antoine was always talking about land, land, land. "Our land," he always used to say to me. That means our land is very important to us. Until I went to Fort Reliance by boat, and I went along McLeod Bay, Mr. Speaker, it's so beautiful that you cannot watch where you're going. It's not important, anyway. It's a boat. You're in the middle of nowhere, but you can never take your eyes off the shorelines. It is so beautiful. That's Thaidene Nene. That's what Antoine always talked about.
The day before we went to Thaidene Nene celebrations in Lutselk'e, we went to Fort Resolution. They're having a service for the late chief Dora Enzo. Dora was a true leader in that community. She was young, smart, and was well-respected in that community. Now, I think maybe she was sick. That's why she did one term, and she didn't repeat. I don't know. All I know is that unfortunately, she passed away.
That was followed by Felix Lockhart, Chief Felix Flockhart. A well-respected man. I eulogized his late wife Sandra Lockhart in the House. Felix was very supportive of me, very good.
Now, they have a young chief, Darryl Marlowe. I'd like to thank all of those guys. Darryl Marlowe. Darryl was young, wasn't sure. When he got in there, it didn't take him long. It didn't take him long for him to show what a leader he is, and I know Minister McLeod talked to me about him even on our way back that he's a true leader for a young man. I'm proud of Darryl. He's a relative of mine. He's actually got many relatives in Fort Resolution. He comes from King Beaulieu clan. I don't know if it's his great, great, great, grandfather, or his great, great, great grandfather, was Joseph King Beaulieu the First.
In Fort Resolution, for my entire term as MLA, they've had one chief, and that was Louis Balsillie. Louis Balsillie has been very supportive of me. Louis Balsillie has been somebody I worked very well with. I'm very impressed with what Louis Balsillie was able to do in his community. He's one of the main, if not the main, reasons that the employment rates in Fort Resolution have gone from the mid-30s to the mid-40s in his time there. He does anything to try to find money to employ people. He's got projects all over. We've got a sidewalk from Fort Resolution to Mission Island because he thought it would be something that would be good. It takes 45 minutes to walk to Mission Island on the sidewalk. It's beautiful. As you're walking, you're along the bay of Fort Resolution, and he's got cabins, and he's got the whole of Mission Island built up to a beautiful place where you can go and you can stay there if you want. You go see the band, and you could rent one of those cabins. When he's having events, cultural events, he's got those cabins available.
The past presidents of the Fort Resolution Metis Council, I'd like to thank, starting with Garry Bailey who is now the president of the NWT Metis Government. When I first started, he was the president of the local council. Gary is quite a guy. He, often, will call. I found out when we were in Fort Resolution a couple of years ago that he doesn't call just me to make sure that we continue to do what we're supposed to do, for me to do what I'm supposed to do as an MLA to represent his community. He called an MP, even called some federal ministers. Doing his job.
After that, there's Kara King. Kara King served as the president, very good president. Had good relationships with the band, followed by Arthur Beck who now, there's Lloyd Cardinal who is the current president.
In Detah, Ndilo, I worked with those guys for only four years and, of course, there's just the one chief in Detah and the one chief in Ndilo. I'd like to thank both Chief Edward Sangris and Chief Ernest Betsina for their support.
Over the years, I've had many constituency assistants. The first constituency assistant was Joe Bailey. Joe had come here and worked, sometimes with Ministers around the Legislative Assembly, and spent some time in here working as a CA, and maybe even as an executive assistant. He came, and he taught me a lot about some of the work that goes on at that level in the Assembly, so I thank him. Followed by Edith Mack, Beverley Catholique, and Lisa Colas after this term. When I started this term, Lisa Cola was someone who was recommended to me, and she was incredible. She's very good. I knew it would be difficult for her to remain here because of her skills, and she ended up I think she's the manager of Giant Mine remediation, or something like that. Pascal Erasmus, I'd like to thank.
During the years, because I'm serving here, I always felt I could use a CA in other communities, so I have CAs in Fort Resolution and Lutselk'e, Velma Delorme and James Marlowe. In order to do all that, you have to get elected. The people who, I guess the one person who has helped me get elected two times, I was acclaimed once, but two times, was Warren Delorme. Warren Delorme had helped me tremendously. It made my life easy when I was campaigning. I had to worry about many, many things. He took care of them. I know Warren had approached me again when I was in Fort Resolution to run again. If there was one person who I would listen to, it would be him, but unfortunately, I think that it is time for other people to fill this seat.
James Marlowe, who served as my CA, helped me as a campaign person. When I got here, a couple of the guys here, Rodney Norm and Rhonda Erasmus, able to help me.
I would like to thank my family. My brothers and sister and my mother have been a tremendous support me. My mom thinks we're arguing in the House here. She asked me one time, "How come Alfred always argues with you?" I said, "He's not arguing with me, Mom. He's asking me questions." That was last government. Yes, and Alfred answered me and asked a lot of questions. She said, "Why is he arguing?" So I said, "Mom, not arguing with me," but she has been a real support for me.
I have an interesting story about her. I guess I could sit here and talk about anything that I want. I found it very interesting. This weekend, actually, my mother woke up very sick, and she was medevaced. She was actually put on a plane and medical travel, and she came here on her own. They gave her papers, and she came here. I met her at the airport and brought her to the hospital.
The work that was done by the doctors in Hay River was tremendous. The doctor here in emergency said, "We have everything we need right here." They asked the questions, sent her for a CAT scan, gave her a clean bill of health, and she stayed with me for the weekend overnight. We started talking, and I realized that what we do for our people is quite tremendous. What we do for our elders is quite tremendous.
She said something to me. I know she is not going to be happy with me, but she said, "You know, Tom, I sign my name, and I get free fuel for a whole year. That's what I do. I have to sign my name. So I sign my name, and somebody from the Housing Corporation comes over here and makes sure that my furnace is operational, my windows are good, my doors are good, and that's what happened," she said. She's signing her name more. She said that when she gets sick like that, she said, "That's what happens. Medical travel." She said, "They bring me here, I sign my name, they bring me here, and they take care of me."
She said to me, "One time, my furnace broke down. I didn't know what to do," she said. "I knew it was going to be in the thousands of dollars, so I went to the furnace people." The young man sat down with her, filled out the forms with her, and told her what was needed, when they could do it and everything, and so my mom said, "Well, I'm going to pay you half now and half when you get the job done," and the guy said, "Oh, you don't have to do that. We're going to go see the Housing Corporation, and the Housing Corporation will put a new furnace in your house. All you have to do is apply for another program." She said she signed her name, and she got a new furnace.
I thought that was pretty interesting. My mother is pretty happy with the way that the government treats her in Hay River. She is 85 years old, and she has never been treated like that by strangers before. It was always that she'd rely on our own family to help each other.
After all of this, and after all of this time, it is important, I think, to be able to not just be critical, but it's to say thank you. You know? Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.