This is page numbers 1593 - 1652 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 money.

Topics

Question 459-19(2): Change Dental Auxiliaries Act
Oral Questions

Page 1614

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I'm happy to hear this little bit of progress from the Minister and definitely willing to explore that further with the Minister. I'm wondering if the Minister can speak to some of the barriers that the Department of Health and Social Services has identified in why that act wouldn't come forward right away, or what timeline they might be able to work towards.

Question 459-19(2): Change Dental Auxiliaries Act
Oral Questions

Page 1614

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

The barriers just have to do with the fact that the Department of Health and Social Services produces a lot of legislation. We do a queue of what needs to be advanced or a triage, and so this is a fairly new request. It would have to be evaluated against the other pieces of legislation that are in the queue now. I can't, unfortunately, be any more specific about when the legislation might come forward.

Question 459-19(2): Change Dental Auxiliaries Act
Oral Questions

Page 1614

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I'm wondering if the department has hired a chief oral health officer as identified in their oral health strategy.

Question 459-19(2): Change Dental Auxiliaries Act
Oral Questions

Page 1614

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

No, we haven't done that. Unfortunately, there is no funding available for this position at this time. We're concerned about funding for this position going forward because the Territorial Health Investment Fund expires on March 31st next year, and the federal government has not yet recommitted to funding this pot of money which would provide for the oral health coordinator.

Question 459-19(2): Change Dental Auxiliaries Act
Oral Questions

Page 1614

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 459-19(2): Change Dental Auxiliaries Act
Oral Questions

Page 1614

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. Given that the current oral health strategy expires in March of 2021 and also given the drastic health effects of people not having access to preventative healthcare, what are the go-forward plans for the Department of Health and Social Services as far as oral health and prevention in the Northwest Territories? Thank you.

Question 459-19(2): Change Dental Auxiliaries Act
Oral Questions

Page 1614

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

There is, in fact, launching next month, an oral hygiene campaign which will include the distribution of toothbrushes, toothpastes, and dental floss to all NWT residents through the regional health centres. That is accompanied by a preschool book written by the author Richard Van Camp, and it has been translated into all 11 official languages. It's been available since March of this year. There are four dental therapists who work in the department, and they are in the regional centres, Inuvik, Fort McPherson, Fort Smith. There is usually one in Fort Simpson, but fortunately for her, she's now on mat leave. There is also a territorial specialist who works here out of Yellowknife. Clearly, with the department, there is a focus on oral health. There is an understanding of its importance. There are plans in the short term to highlight that, and in the longer term, obviously, with the action plan expiring, we will need to look at renewing that. Thank you.

Question 459-19(2): Change Dental Auxiliaries Act
Oral Questions

Page 1614

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 460-19(2): Isolation Centres
Oral Questions

Page 1614

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Speaker. There has no doubt been a lot of talk about the COVID-19 secretariat and its budget. I'd like to speak specifically about the isolation centres today considering they make up over half of the COVID-19 secretariat budget. I believe that there is a consensus that the spending in this area is too liberal. There are a number of ways we could save money on isolation centres, whether that's increasing the number of hub communities, shortening the isolation periods, increasing rapid testing, making sure people have kitchens so they can cook their own food instead of being catered. Each of these solutions come with some pros and cons, and I'm not suggesting we have to do all of those. My question for the Premier is: is she committed to finding some cost savings in the isolation centres portion of the COVID-19 secretariat budget? Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 460-19(2): Isolation Centres
Oral Questions

Page 1614

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Madam Premier.

Question 460-19(2): Isolation Centres
Oral Questions

November 3rd, 2020

Page 1615

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I will start by saying yes because we've been on a roll, so I just want to say yes. There are many ways, the Member is absolutely correct. Our isolation costs are the major contributing factor to the cost of the secretariat. However, they are critical, so we are just doing that work right now. We're talking with Indigenous governments, municipal governments, other stakeholders in the communities to look at ways: do we pay for discretionary travel; do we look at RFPs or other options? The other thing, too, is: we've been working with the federal government to ask for more support for our costs related to COVID-19. We're looking at all options. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 460-19(2): Isolation Centres
Oral Questions

Page 1615

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

I am glad to hear that. Considering this is $17 million projected for this fiscal and ongoing, we plan to be running these isolation centres for a number of years. They're quite big contracts. My question for the Premier is: did these isolation centre contracts go out for tender?

Question 460-19(2): Isolation Centres
Oral Questions

Page 1615

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Again, when we first started addressing the issue of COVID-19 back in March, we didn't have time to put it out to tender. We just kind of grabbed what we could, trying to get people in safe isolation spaces. We've been operating in that. Again, one of the issues that we had when we didn't have a secretariat is all different departments were taking on different aspects of it. Now that we've formed the secretariat, Madam Speaker, we are currently actually looking at an RFP process so that we can provide better services, more efficient, and more effective services.

Question 460-19(2): Isolation Centres
Oral Questions

Page 1615

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

I completely understand that, in the midst of COVID-19, perhaps, we had to just get the isolations in place and not tender them. Now that we're looking for operating these multi-years, I really think it's important that we send them out for tender. I note there are hotels that could be interested. There are smaller hospitality places and communities. There are catering contracts. There's a lot of money flying around within the COVID secretariat right now that I believe we have to have an economic lens to.

One of the other suggestions I've heard is whether apartment rentals were considered? I know many people would, in fact, prefer to stay in an apartment where you have access to a full kitchen and it's, perhaps, a little nicer stay than two weeks in a hotel. My question for the Premier is: is apartment rentals something that we are considering and, perhaps, this would even save us money? Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 460-19(2): Isolation Centres
Oral Questions

Page 1615

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Madam Premier.