This is page numbers 1689 - 1724 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 work.

Topics

Recognition of Interpreters
Members' Statements

Page 1693

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Madam Speaker. The NWT is the only jurisdiction in Canada that has an Official Languages Act that recognizes 11 official languages. I'll give the Minister of ECE the honour of naming them all at the appropriate time. The Official Languages Act recognizes that preserving and enhancing the use of official languages is a shared responsibility of the Legislative Assembly, the GNWT, and the NWT language communities. The Official Languages Act establishes three legislative bodies that play a role in protecting, revitalizing, and promoting Indigenous languages. The Minister responsible for the Official Languages Act has the responsibility for setting the direction and coordination of GNWT policies and programs related to official languages. The Minister responsible for the Official Languages Act is the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Madam Speaker, I would like to recognize the interpreters who have been providing interpretation services for the duration of this current session. I understand, due to COVID issues, not all of the official languages are in attendance in the House. The interpreters are: for the Tlicho, her Dene name, Maro Drygeese Sunberg from Dettah; Jonas Lafferty from Behchoko. The proper terminology for North Slavey is Sahtuot'ine Yati. We have Sarah Cleary, who is originally from Deline, and Theresa Etchinelle from Tulita. From South Slavey, the proper terminology is Dene Zhatie. We have Joe Tambour from K'atl'odeeche. It's the Hay River Reserve. The Chipewyan, the proper terminology is Dene Suline. We have Tom Unka from Fort Resolution and Dennis Drygeese from Lutselk'e. For the French, and I just found out this is by a live feed from Edmonton, we have Francine Lapointe and David Black. All the interpreters were provided with NWT flag pins and Legislative Assembly pins.

Madam Speaker, this House is appreciative of the continued services the interpreters provide to the Legislative Assembly so many of the language speakers in the Northwest Territories can keep abreast of the business of the House. Masi.

Recognition of Interpreters
Members' Statements

Page 1693

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Affirmative Action
Members' Statements

Page 1693

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Madam Speaker. I'll be continuing on with talking about the Affirmative Action Policy from yesterday. Many of the problems that I see with the Affirmative Action Policy have already been stated in this House at length over the years, including this week. However, I still see a few glaring gaps in the hiring processes in the GNWT. It often impedes with the chances of Indigenous candidates from successful job competitions. That's why this policy was created in the first place, to help even a playing field for underrepresented people to be hired by the GNWT. As a Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh riding, I have heard many complaints of this process and heard many grievances from current employees that were sharing with me because they were afraid of repercussions at work.

Madam Speaker, picture this: you work for the GNWT. To apply, there are several steps and procedures that must be followed, such as sending your resume, being screened in, interviewed, and then going through further steps such as reference checks before you are sent a job offer and then so on and so on. One of the main issues being reported to me is that we are still seeing newly hired GNWT indeterminate employees that are bypassing our HR processes. One loophole that I noticed, and after hearing my colleagues speak, I can clearly see that there are GNWT staff being hired through casual pools. Once hired as a casual, I have received reports where they are getting job offers without even being interviewed. In my view, this is not acceptable or ethical.

Madam Speaker, I know that the Affirmative Action Policy has helped with the number of interviews Indigenous people will receive. However, this does not always translate to Indigenous hires by the GNWT. I'm hoping we can fix that. More can be done based on everything we have heard recently and there is an appetite to see some tangible changes in the way GNWT hires good, hardworking minorities into its workforce. Marsi cho, Madam Speaker. I will have questions for the Minister of Finance at the appropriate time.

Affirmative Action
Members' Statements

Page 1694

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

Remembrance Day
Members' Statements

Page 1694

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Madam Speaker. From today until November 11th, Canadians will mark Veterans' Week and commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Over one million Canadians from across our country and all walks of life enlisted and served, with 45,000 souls giving their lives in sacrifice for the greater good.

Like many proud Canadians, several of my relatives have served our nation in a variety of capacities and conflicts, including in both world wars as well as the Korean War. My uncle, William Grant, my mom's brother, served as an airplane mechanic with the Royal Canadian Air Force spending many years as a peacekeeper stationed overseas in places like Germany and the Suez Canal. Some of my favourite things about his visits as a child were his gifts of dehydrated Air Force rations and t-shirts with F-18s on them.

One notable Canadian that always stands out in my mind when I think of November 11th is Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, poet, physician, and author, who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a medical officer in the First World War. He gave his life for our country but left behind the precious legacy of his poem, "In Flanders Fields", still recited by schoolchildren across Canada every year.

Every year, I wear my poppy with pride as I think of all the brave men and women who sacrificed so much for the wellbeing of others, and every year, I feel the significance and weight of the day even more. This year, I plan to visit some of the resources available online to honour and remember Canada's veterans, including those in my own family. Yellowknife's Remembrance Day ceremony will be held at a reduced capacity this year, so I encourage everyone to join me and attend the Legion's virtual ceremony online at 10:50 a.m. on November 11th and take time that day and every day to give thanks to those who ensured our freedom today.

Remembrance Day
Members' Statements

Page 1694

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Reflections on Effecting Positive Change
Members' Statements

Page 1694

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Madam Speaker, making changes for the betterment of people and lands in which we serve is what we were put in this House to do. As elected leaders, we have a duty and responsibility to enact the changes that we committed to which helped propel us into this House. We each have a mandate entrusted upon us by our constituents with the expectation that we work together and make positive changes. Madam Speaker, change is never realized or accomplished easily. Change is always, always met with resistance. There will always be those who prefer or even enjoy the status quo because that is what they are used to. Changes will never take effect if there is inability or outright refusal to think outside the box. Madam Speaker, people who are resistant to change are comfortable with the status quo. They are comfortable with keeping things the way they are.

Madam Speaker, maintaining the status quo is not what I was put into this House to do. I was put here to stand up to the status quo and to fight for the little guy, to fight for justice, to fight for my community of Fort Smith, and do right for all the people of the Northwest Territories. Madam Speaker, thinking outside the box can be an amazing thing. As we do, we can accomplish nearly anything that put our minds to. All it takes is some political will. Political will, however, is not just flowery speech with little concrete action. Political will requires critical thinking, decisive action, and it requires working together as we achieve common goals for the people we represent.

Madam Speaker, regardless of where any of us are in this House stand on any issue, my hope is that, at the end of each day, we're able to come together at the table and be open for change to take effect. We need to have open minds and open hearts if we ever intend to enact any substantive changes over the course of this 19th Assembly. I seek unanimous consent to complete my statement, Madam Speaker.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Reflections on Effecting Positive Change
Members' Statements

Page 1694

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Lastly, Madam Speaker, I would like to wish all of my colleagues well as we conclude our final day of session today. I hope you all enjoy some time off until we return for our committee work in a couple of weeks. I hope we may all return with fresh ideas and change on the horizon. I'd also like to thank my amazing constituents of Thebacha for their continued support of me and for the work we do here at the Legislative Assembly. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Reflections on Effecting Positive Change
Members' Statements

Page 1694

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Remembrance Day and Wish List
Members' Statements

Page 1695

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I don't normally think about Christmas until after Remembrance Day, so let me start by thanking those brave men and women who served in Canada's Armed Forces, especially those who have given their lives in defence of our great country. I hope everyone will be paying their respects on Remembrance Day in their home communities with myself and my ranger brother and sisters. I look forward to seeing them when I get home.

Now, since this is the last day in the House before Christmas and the holiday season and Christmas is 50 days away and business planning is coming, this is my Christmas wish-list for Nunakput. For the biggest present, I need 35 houses, at least 10 for Tuktoyaktuk, Ulukhaktok, and Paulatuk, and five for Sachs Harbour, and my elder's facility for Ulukhaktok, which is going to come before we're done here in the next four years, Madam Speaker. The Housing Corporation must reach out to the community IRC corporation to help make sure that we spend this $60 million that we desperately need. Nunakput needs the Housing Corporation to remove policies and barriers to keep low income from elderly for maintaining for their homes. People should not have homeowner's insurance that still need to work to be done. Insurance in my riding is not a luxury, Madam Speaker. Nunakput needs from Municipal and Community Affairs first need to find the Paulatuk to finish their sewage lagoon and you're not taking that $53,000 back. We have got to have that spent for you.

I haven't raised up this in the House, but the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk has recently upgraded our community road so any damage that the school project is going to do that the government's on tap for it, so they're going to pay if there is any damage to the road. It's going to be minus 50 pretty soon, and there are going to be damages.

Minister Archie, I would like to thank you for this upcoming successful sealift season, so start planning now for next season. You had an awesome crew doing your work up in my riding. I look forward to meeting with you and my leadership in Tuktoyaktuk for the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway, for the maintenance program that we are going to start establishing and working towards. Since the Minister is responsible for NTPC, do not be surprised. I don't like those limiters, so please rethink, please rethink, because I don't want to bring it in tomorrow's. Madam Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Remembrance Day and Wish List
Members' Statements

Page 1695

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Maybe we could give those limiters away for Christmas presents as an ornament. Anyways, Madam Speaker, NTPC, get rid of them.

Minister Green, as the pandemic wears on, the impact multiplies for the people who travel repeatedly for medical appointments, so let's make it a priority for testing to ensure they spend most of the possible time with their families. Make those rapid testing kits available for medical travellers. I am looking forward to our tour next week, the next two weeks, in my riding of Nunakput with you. I am looking for that.

Premier Cochrane, please spend that COVID money that we just approved with you; be really frugal. Make sure it's spent in the right place. Thank you for the work you guys are doing. The needs of our people, the funding is limited. Let's make this government's money spent helping the most needy and vulnerable residents in the territory.

I wish my constituents in Nunakput, my colleagues in this House, and the people of the Northwest Territories safe and happy holiday season. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Remembrance Day and Wish List
Members' Statements

Page 1695

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Call on All Politicians to End Systemic Racism
Members' Statements

November 5th, 2020

Page 1695

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Madame Speaker, I read a thought-provoking and upsetting article in the Globe and Mail by Arlen Dumas, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Chief Dumas is denouncing Manitoba's Bill 2, the Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act, arguing that there are two items buried in this omnibus bill threatening to further perpetuate poverty and vulnerability for Manitoban First Nations people.

The first affects children in care, 90 percent of whom are First Nations. As Chief Dumas explains, in 2005, the Manitoba government redirected federal funding meant to support these kids to flow through the province, arguing the province was paying for care. Since then, over $388 million has diverted to Manitoba's general revenues. Bill 2 affirms this policy and forbids First Nations foster children from taking court action to seek repayment. I agree with Chief Dumas, who says, "It is wrong to steal from First Nations children. It is wrong to take away their basic rights to seek redress for the wrongs committed against them."

In 2018, the Manitoba Public Utilities Board froze rates for customers on First Nations reserves. Manitoba Hydro appealed, and the court overturned the decision, resulting in 6.5-percent increase for on-reserve customers, effective September 2020. The Manitoba government is now giving itself the authority to impose hydro increases without board oversight and has proposed a 2.9-percent increase for residents. Consequently, Manitobans on reserves face a "crippling and cumulative" 9.6-percent increase in their power. Imagine, Madam Speaker, if that was your household.

Chief Dumas says, "This is what systemic racism looks like; it is unconscionable, and it is wrong." This got me thinking. I have had many conversations with friends and constituents who don't really seem to understand what systemic racism is. Systemic racism lives in our dark corners. Because it is systemic, it is so ingrained in our colonial way of drafting laws and doing business that we don't see it for what it is. We need to shine a light on systemic racism and force it out into the open, where it can be identified and eradicated.

As Chief Dumas points out, Canadians support reconciliation and want a new relationship based on fairness and mutual respect. He has called on all politicians to listen and to act. I am listening, Madam Speaker, and will act by continuing the public dialogue needed to help end systemic racism. I would like to see our government act by undertaking the work needed to identify where system racism hides in our own laws, regulations, and policies. In order to stamp it out, we need to root it out. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Call on All Politicians to End Systemic Racism
Members' Statements

Page 1696

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statement. Member for Monfwi.

Elders' Housing Issues
Members' Statements

Page 1696

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Madam Speaker. [Translation] I would like to make a statement regarding elders. We have a mandate to protect the elders, for them to live in dignity. We have great respect for our elders. They are our guides, and we do not want them suffering in any way. We need to do the best for them. We see a lot of the elders who are suffering. [Translation ends]

Madam Speaker, the number one issue that Monfwi constituents have is that of housing. I have been here for the past 15 years, and over those years, I have made so many statements on housing, too many to remember, in fact, whether it be in the House, at the Cabinet table, or in the Speaker's office.

One area that they are most concerned about is how we treat our elders with respect to housing needs. I already brought up to the NWT Housing Corporation Minister the need to have a program in place so that qualified journey-persons can travel to small communities, especially the most isolated communities, to service their furnaces, plumbing, inspect water heaters, water and sewage tanks, et cetera for our elders.

I have heard enough stories from my elderly constituents about black smoke coming out of their furnace exhaust pipe because their furnaces have not been serviced for years. Surely, this cannot be safe, Madam Speaker. I am not an oil-burner mechanic, but something like this can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes, I am sure.

Yesterday, my office sent the NWT Housing Corporation Minister a picture of a water tank belonging to an elderly couple in Whati; yesterday, Madam Speaker. That water tank is operating with a screwdriver lodged to the side of the tank in order to plug a hole, in this day and age, Madam Speaker. When that screwdriver is removed, water starts leaking from the tank. Again, I am not a certified technician, but this cannot be safe. In fact, I believe it would be a hazard in the household. Madam Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation at the appropriate time. Masi.