This is page numbers 1299 - 1316 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd 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

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1306

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When I look at the community of Hay River and consider our population, our proximity to the border, and the limited number of RCMP stationed there, it concerns me in that we are understaffed when it comes to dealing with illicit drugs. Can the Minister of Justice confirm the number of funded RCMP positions and support staff in Hay River and around the NWT? How is it determined that this is the number we require to provide effective policing in the NWT? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1306

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister of Justice.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1306

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the Northwest Territories, there are 225 RCMP positions and 42 public servants who serve the NWT as part of the territorial police service agreement and First Nations policing agreement. In addition, there are 13 federal policing positions. Specifically in Hay River, there are 16 regular members, including 12 constables, who we would see out on patrol, and three public servants. This includes two additional members who are included in the 2018-2019 budget.

To the Member's point about the resources in Hay River, I know that over the past few years there have been staffing issues, and it has been tough to get that detachment staffed up. I know those have been taken care of, and I believe they are at full capacity and that they have been for the last couple of years, which is good news.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1306

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

The drug trade in the territories, you seem to hear more and more about it lately. We have more youth dying because of it. What I would like to ask the Minister is if he can confirm if the direction this government is taking to combat the drug trade in the NWT is working, or is the department re-evaluating their approach to the way they deal with the drug trade?

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1306

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

In terms of combatting the drug trade, despite what the perceptions might be, it is my opinion that, the RCMP and the Department of Justice, this is the last line of defence. The first line of defence is preventative measures. It's ensuring kids have something to do in the evening so that they do not go out and get into trouble. It's ensuring that there is the type of supports that kids and adults need in terms of counselling, having easy access to those things. However, the Member's question is about what we are doing for enforcement, so I do have some information.

Enforcement is not just the RCMP. There needs to be a multisector approach. Of course, the Department of Justice and the RCMP have been working with health and education and NGOs over the years on things such as the Opioid Task Force, which included the department and subject matters in the RCMP who have been working closely to ensure that we do not see the type of opioid crisis here that we have been seeing in the South. There is also collaboration on the alcohol strategy.

We have all seen the significant number of drug seizures over the past number of years. Every time I look on the news, there is a photograph with a pile of drugs, a pile of money, and then guns, and we see those on a regular basis. In addition to those large seizures, the RCMP are also focusing on enhancing the frontline officers' ability to target drug trafficking at a community level through collaboration, training, and development. We do not hear a lot of the things that the department, that the RCMP do, as well. I know that, speaking with the RCMP in Hay River, they have partnered or they work closely with the RCMP in Alberta, and they stop drugs before they get into the territory. We don't see that. We do not hear a lot of the things they do. They are not self-promoters in a lot of ways, and maybe that is so the people do not figure out their tactics. However, I am always happy when I speak with them and I find out that they are doing things that I never knew were happening. There is also the development of a gun and gang strategy that the NWT is embarking on with support for the federal government. There are a number of things that we're doing. That being said, this is the last line of defence. We really need to work on the first line of defence.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1306

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Can the Minister of Justice confirm the annual cost specifically associated with drug enforcement? This would include a breakdown of RCMP, courts, and corrections cost, knowing that there is probably an education component, a health component, and all that. It's just those three I'm asking about.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1306

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

I can't provide a breakout. Drug enforcement is so intertwined with everything that the justice system does, whether it's an RCMP doing a drug seizure, whether it's a court hearing, a case, or whether it's someone in the prison system. It's not possible without a significant amount of time and effort to really parse that. I will go back to the department and see if we can get some more precise information, understanding that it would be impossible to get the exact numbers that you're looking for.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1306

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1307

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What I would like to see on that is a cost between what it costs for enforcement versus education, so I guess it would be the last line of defence versus the cost of the first line of defence. The last question I have is: can the Minister tell me how much emphasis is placed on education addiction support in the battle to reduce access to drug dependency in the NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1307

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Again, that's a big question. Education is part of addiction support that I would assume would include everything from being able to call a counselor to being sent away for counseling and aftercare. I can give a little bit of information about what's happening. In the schools, in grades seven to nine, there is a program typically offered called the Fourth R, and it's a skill-focused and relationship-based program. Each grade level includes a unit on substance abuse and addictions and related behaviours, and that makes up a good chunk of the program. The high school level, there is the Healthy Relationships Program Plus, which includes a unit on the impact of substance use and abuse. There are counselling supports in schools, whether it be the Child and Youth Care counselors, itinerant travelling, mental health school-based counselors, community counselling program, and so on.

I'll speak a little bit about the education done by the Department of Health. The Department Health has the Dope Experience, which is a campaign focused on cannabis, which was developed in consultation with Northerners and northern youth and northern youth supporters. There is a public awareness campaign about opioids, there is the My Voice, My Choice campaign for youth wellness, and there is the NWT Help Line Facebook page. There is a lot of effort being put into this. That being said, there are a lot of things out there. I've spoken to students in school. There are so many things that they need to get to into in the curriculum, but this is one of them. I think, sometimes, it's in one ear, out the other. There is no easy fix. I've listed off a ton of things that are happening. This is something that takes collaboration, not just with the government and organizations, but with every individual, as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 363-19(2): Policing in Hay River and the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1307

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Thebacha.

Question 364-19(2): System Racism in Corrections Division
Oral Questions

Page 1307

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, my first question is: does the Minister acknowledge that there is an issue of systemic racism faced by Indigenous staff within the correctional division of the Department of Justice? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 364-19(2): System Racism in Corrections Division
Oral Questions

Page 1307

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Minister of Justice.

Question 364-19(2): System Racism in Corrections Division
Oral Questions

Page 1307

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier, in the Member's statement, she referenced comments by the Prime Minister about systemic racism, by the AFN National Chief about systemic racism, and she could have referenced the MLA for Hay River North's comments at the Black Lives Matter rally at Hay River recently because, in every western institution, there is systemic racism. There is no getting around it, and anyone who disagrees I think is willfully blind. That said, it's how we deal with it. The North, I think we do a better job than other places, but these are systems that were created in a colonial culture. Systemic racism exists, and we have to deal with it. We have to use the advantages we have in the territory and the people we have in the territory to ensure that it doesn't creep into our systems and then, when it is there, that we can get it out. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 364-19(2): System Racism in Corrections Division
Oral Questions

Page 1307

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Addresses against systemic racism must start somewhere. Can the Minister explain what the terms of reference are for the recent workplace assessment, which is being completed by an independent contractor, and explain what the expected outcomes are? Also, would the systemic racism issues in the files that were presented by my constituents be addressed by this assessment? If not, how is the Minister going to address these issues?