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

Members Present

Hon. Diane Archie, , Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. Norn, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 1689

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Welcome, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Minister's Statement 95-19(2): Work Plan for the Development of the GNWT Action Plan in Response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report
Ministers' Statements

Page 1689

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Madam Speaker, later today, I will be tabling a draft work plan that outlines how the Government of the Northwest Territories will undertake the preparation of an action plan to respond to the calls for justice presented in the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This document represents this government's next steps forward in addressing the systemic causes of violence directed at Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.

The 231 calls for justice are far-reaching and complex; developing a response is not simply a matter of reviewing and signing off on work already being done. This process will take a careful and thorough review of what we are currently doing, realistically and honestly assessing the effectiveness of what we are doing now, what we need to do in the future, and setting targets to measure progress moving forward. The work plan also asks GNWT departments to review and analyze how well our current programs, services, and policies reflect the spirit and intent of the calls for justice and what could be done to address the inequities identified in the calls for justice.

Madam Speaker, this government is already doing a lot to address these calls for justice. We have partnerships and bilateral agreements in place with a number of Indigenous governments. We have, and continue to, collaborate with Indigenous and community organizations in providing programs and services that respond to the needs of NWT residents. Indigenous languages, traditional knowledge, and respect and valuing of culture are already incorporated into many of our programs and services and are an integral part of how we do business. As a government, we pride ourselves in our ability to work with community partners. The calls for justice also direct that Indigenous governments, community governments, territorial NGOs, local organizations, and people with lived experience be engaged and given an opportunity to help shape how governments respond to the calls for justice.

The draft work plan I am tabling later today, includes engagement in the NWT as we prepare our response to the calls for justice. There is a lot for the Government of the Northwest Territories to absorb and consider in responding to the final report, and we are committed to thoughtfully considering and responding to each of the calls for justice. We also recognize that some of the calls for justice may take longer to implement than others. For example, there are calls to establish new legislation or revise existing legislation, and this takes time. However, this does not mean we will forget about this important work or put it on the back burner.

When preparing the GNWT action plan, we also have to be mindful that the Government of Canada is working on the development of a national action plan in response to the calls for justice. Territorial officials will continue to collaborate at the federal, provincial, and territorial level to ensure that the Northwest Territories has a voice nationally. The draft work plan is a living document. It will be reviewed regularly to measure progress and to make any changes necessary to address the evolving nature of this work. I want to assure the Members there will continue to be opportunities to provide input throughout the process.

Survivors and families of missing and murdered Indigenous women in the NWT deserve our respect and our help. We are working with departments to develop and implement a timely and comprehensive response so that we support them in their healing journeys. I do want to note that the Government of Canada has created a support line that is available for anyone affected by missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls who may need immediate emotional assistance. The support line can be reached at 1-844-413-6649.

Madam Speaker, the GNWT welcomed the recommendations of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. We are focused on, and committed to, improving the safety and well-being of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people, now and in the future. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 95-19(2): Work Plan for the Development of the GNWT Action Plan in Response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Final Report
Ministers' Statements

Page 1690

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission.

Minister's Statement 96-19(2): Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Support to Employers during COVID-19
Ministers' Statements

Page 1690

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I would like to highlight some of the work the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission is doing to support employers and workers in the Northwest Territories during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission acted swiftly to put in place financial relief measures for employers who were unable to make their assessment payments. These measures extended the deadline for the first instalment of 2020 assessment payments to August 1st and gave valuable time to employers to adjust their payroll estimates and to make their payments later in the year without facing any late payment penalties.

Madam Speaker, many businesses that have remained open or have successfully reopened during the pandemic are continuing to do so safely with the support of the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer working in partnership with the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission. As part of the Emerging Wisely Plan, employers must complete an exposure control plan for how they will identify and manage the risk of COVID-19. An exposure control plan is also a requirement under the Northwest Territories Safety Act and Northwest Territories Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Employers are responsible for ensuring a healthy and safe workplace. That responsibility has not changed.

Employers do not need to send their exposure control plans to the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission for approval; however, Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission occupational health and safety inspectors will only request a copy of the completed plan from employers when they are responding directly to concerns or doing an inspection. To date, Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission staff has provided direct assistance to over 2,500 employers through outreach and inspections to help them to develop their pandemic exposure control plans and to put practical solutions in place. Many employers and industry organizations have proactively reached out to the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission for this assistance, showing the commitment that employers here in the Northwest Territories have to keeping their staff and their customers safe.

As other parts of Canada see their pandemic case numbers rising, the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission remains committed to supporting local businesses to review their plans regularly, to make sure that they are prepared and to continue to provide support as needed to protect the health and safety of workers, clients, and customers. There are a number of great resources available on the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission website. I strongly encourage any business that has concerns about how to do a good risk assessment or put a plan in place to look there for guidance or to get in touch with the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission.

Finally, Madam Speaker, I would like to recognize the contributions of three outgoing members of the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Governance Council, Mr. David Tucker, Mr. Abe Thiel, and Mr. Jack Rowe. I would like to thank the members for their service and important work overseeing the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission and representing the interests of workers, employers, and the general public. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 96-19(2): Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission Support to Employers during COVID-19
Ministers' Statements

Page 1690

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Ministers' statements. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Minister's Statement 97-19(2): Sport Canada COVID-19 Funding Support
Ministers' Statements

Page 1690

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Madam Speaker, today, I am pleased to announce the successful distribution of $1.583 million in COVID emergency support funding for sport organizations. This funding has been provided by the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage's Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations. The funding provides additional temporary relief to support sport organizations and helps them plan for the future. This funding is being used to support the continuation of sport and recreation program operations across the Northwest Territories. The funds will enable them to support the healthy lifestyle goals outlined in the Government of the Northwest Territories' Emerging Wisely Plan to manage the impacts of the pandemic.

Municipal and Community Affairs distributed funding for sport and recreation programs in the amounts of:

  • $721,000 to 33 community governments;
  • $634,000 to 29 territorial sport organizations; and
  • $228,000 to territorial and regional sport and recreation non-government organizations.

Madam Speaker, the innovative projects being supported through this funding are impressive, they include:

  • Outdoor events such as winter cultural day camps with fishing, trapping, and traditional Indigenous games;
  • Upgrades and repairs to outdoor sport and recreation areas like parks, as well as ski and hiking trails;
  • The doubling of some program offerings so that everyone interested can participate even when attendance restrictions limit the number of people at any single event;
  • Cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment for staff;
  • On-line programming; and
  • Extra staff and additional cleaning costs.

Community governments have also been reaching out to schools to support student and resident access to services so that health and wellness can be supported in these challenging times. MACA continues to support community governments and sport and recreation organizations dealing with the impacts of the pandemic by extending resources from all existing programs. Communities have demonstrated the flexibility to adapt programs to deal with restrictions under the public health order.

Madam Speaker, the Government of Canada's support for NWT sport programming could not have come at a better time. Through innovative planning and careful health and safety measures, this funding will be supporting important sport and recreation programs that directly impact the physical and mental health of all Northwest Territories residents. Mahsi, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 97-19(2): Sport Canada COVID-19 Funding Support
Ministers' Statements

Page 1691

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 98-19(2): Family Violence
Ministers' Statements

Page 1691

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Madam Speaker. We know that family violence continues to be a serious issue. The Northwest Territories consistently records among the highest rates of violence against women in Canada, as reported by Statistics Canada. Two women have been murdered in the last two months. This violence is as heartbreaking as it is unacceptable. As a territory, we need to do better.

This month is Family Violence Prevention Month in the Northwest Territories. Let us take time to focus on promoting a change in attitudes and behaviours about violence against women and the harm that comes with it. The government is dedicated to providing the necessary resources to reduce the incidence of family violence in the territory and better support those who have experienced this type of trauma.

We know that family violence can have a lifelong impact on children and youth and influence how their relationships are formed. It is critical that we do everything we can to stop this cycle and promote positive, healthy relationships.

Madam Speaker, the response to family violence involves many GNWT departments and agencies taking a whole-of-government approach. It also requires us to work closely with our community partners to ensure that the solutions reflect the priorities of the communities. We have established an interdepartmental working group that will review GNWT programs and services providing family violence supports. This team is working on an action plan on the Calls to Justice from the Final Report of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls national inquiry. This work will contribute to addressing the issue of domestic violence, among other things. We look forward to seeing the results.

Family Violence Shelters are territorial resources that can be accessed 24 hours a day. There are shelters in Tuktoyaktuk, Inuvik, Yellowknife, Hay River, and Fort Smith. Even if there is not a shelter in your community, travel assistance is available to get to one. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not necessary to call 811 to get an exemption to the public health orders to be in a shelter with non-family members. Call the family crisis line directly at 1-866-223-775. Staff will help you to make a safety plan, if required, and apply for an emergency protection order to keep the abuser away.

Shelters also provide a range of support programs for women and children who are trying to leave an abusive relationship. Shelter supports include supportive counselling, case management and referral, support in identifying housing and income supports, links to transitional housing supports, and, most importantly, a safe place to stay. For the five communities with shelters, the GNWT provides $3.5 million annually in core funding. In addition to this, we appreciate the support of the federal government, which, in August, announced one-time-only funding of $321,000 to support cleaning in the shelters.

Madam Speaker, we believe that the incidents of intimate partner family violence are likely escalating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families may be stressed by the challenges they face and self-isolation may make things worse. In the early stages of the pandemic, very few women were seeking admission to the family violence shelters. However, at the same time, the number of emergency protection orders increased.

Although these trends are disturbing, as a government, we have implemented a number of measures to help intervene at this difficult time. We have communicated to residents that NWT family violence shelters remain open and available during the pandemic. We have distributed over 150 cell phones to victim service providers to distribute to those in need. This ensures there is a safe way for women to seek information and support. The NWT Help Line, community counselling services, and child and youth care counsellors remain ready to help. We are continuing to monitor this situation closely and encourage anyone who needs help to reach out to one of these supports.

Madam Speaker, as a territory we cannot afford to view family violence as a special awareness week or a one-time initiative. The health and well-being of our residents depends on a coordinated approach to breaking the silence and working together in meaningful ways to end all forms of family violence. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 98-19(2): Family Violence
Ministers' Statements

Page 1692

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Remembrance Day
Members' Statements

November 5th, 2020

Page 1692

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Madam Speaker, in November of 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the First World War ended. Beginning in 1919, Armistice Day, now referred to as Remembrance Day in Canada, was first observed throughout the British Commonwealth. This was to observe the armistice agreement that ended the First World War. Subsequent to that, new conflicts arose and continue to arise to this very day. To this day, we still have many Canadians placed in harm's way.

Madam Speaker, remembrance is not only the right thing to do, but it is our duty and our moral duty. Although it is but one brief moment on November 11th, as Canadians, we pause for that moment of silence. During that pause and during that silence, we remember and honour all those men and women who now serve, have served, and those who sacrificed their lives for Canada.

Madam Speaker, throughout our history, more than 23 million Canadians have served, while more than 118,000 have died to protect us, all to provide present and future generations with a chance at a safe, healthy, and bright future. This recognition and sacrifice is why Canada, along with the Northwest Territories and eight other jurisdictions, declared Remembrance Day a statutory holiday.

Madam Speaker, for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for us and for those who continue to protect us, I would ask and encourage all residents of the Northwest Territories to take the time to pause, reflect, and think of those persons, not only on November 11th, but each and every day going forward. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Remembrance Day
Members' Statements

Page 1692

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Food Security
Members' Statements

Page 1692

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Madame la Presidente. Food security can generally be defined as having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable and nutritious food. The 2019-2023 mandate of this government identifies actions to support food security with food industry development, increasing country food harvesting, and improving Nutrition North. We have an agriculture strategy called "The Business of Food," a name that implies the largely commercial focus of its initiatives. These are helpful, but the almost exclusive focus on agriculture as a business will not necessarily lead to food security. We have a lot of work to do and a lot of questions to answer.

COVID had brought the issue of food security to the forefront. This summer, the requirements for social distancing and isolation prompted many more people to grow their own food in home and community gardens and to get out on the land and water and harvest country foods. In the NWT, we did experience some disruptions to our supply chains through the cancellation of flights and reductions in trucking. What lessons did we learn from this past harvest, and was our government there to support this convergence of interest and necessity of local food production during the pandemic?

There have been some incredible examples of food security in the NWT over the last season, including the Great Potato Collaboration with the donation of 50,000 pounds of seed potatoes by an Alberta farmer and the development of a local market garden in Kam Lake on a basic gravel pad.

It's hard to know how successful our current programs and supports are towards food security when there appears no clear measurement of agricultural or country food production and consumption by our Bureau of Statistics. If you don't measure it, how can we gauge the effectiveness of even out current focus on agri-business? I'll have questions for the Minister of ITI on how we can build real food security in the NWT, learn from the lessons of the pandemic, and ensure we can actually measure progress. Mahsi, Madame la Presidente.

Food Security
Members' Statements

Page 1693

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.