This is page numbers 163 - 178 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 community.

Topics

Oral Health Care
Members' Statements

Page 164

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

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Coronavirus Impacts on Tourism
Members' Statements

Page 164

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Tourism has been a bright light in the NWT economy, experiencing growth other sectors can only dream of. The number of people who are visiting the NWT and the amount of money they spend here are significant. I'm going to review a few numbers from Industry, Tourism and Investment. In 2018-2019, we had just over 120,000 visitors come to the NWT, and together they spent $210 million. Of that total, we had about 42,000 aurora visitors, and together they spent $67.7 million dollars. These are large numbers. Almost 16 percent of visitors last year came from China, a 19-fold increase in six years. Some aurora tour operators reported having their best December ever and looked forward to record visitor numbers in the new year. Then the coronavirus struck, and the Chinese government shut down group travel to reduce the spread of the virus.

Where does that leave the aurora tourism industry in the NWT? Media reported at the end of January that the company Aurora Holiday had more than 200 cancellations for hotels, rental cars, and day tours following the Chinese government's decision. These cancellations represented half of their bookings through the busy winter period. That is just one of many licensed tourism operators. Those numbers are for direct spending. There will be impacts for indirect and induced spending, as well. It seems likely that small businesses, especially those based in Yellowknife, will take a hit on the $67.7 million spent by aurora visitors last year.

As someone who lives and works in Yellowknife, I notice a difference. There are fewer groups touring here at the Legislative Assembly. There are fewer groups walking in downtown and walking down the hill to Old Town. It is clear to me that, once the coronavirus crisis is resolved, NWT tourism will have some rebuilding to do, re-establishing markets, reassuring Chinese visitors they are welcome, and assisting tourism small businesses to rebuild. I want to see this as a priority investment by government, given the importance of tourism to our economy. I will have questions for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Coronavirus Impacts on Tourism
Members' Statements

Page 164

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

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife Centre. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Thaidene Nene Status
Members' Statements

Page 165

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. A number of agreements were signed to formally establish Thaidene Nene as a national park and protected area under GNWT legislation in August 2019. This was a monumental achievement in terms of building a conservation economy, and was very important for the community of Lutselk'e that spent decades negotiating this area. While our government attended the signing ceremony, there was no news release, and not even a Minister's statement. Quite frankly, the GNWT had to be dragged into the arrangement and resisted it at almost every step. This, despite the visitor, operations, and heritage centre that will be built in Lutselk'e, creating initial direct employment estimated at 18 positions, including eight full-time jobs. Canada will invest $40 million toward infrastructure in the national park reserve operations in the first 12 years, and 3.4 million annually for operations thereafter. Canada has even committed to invest $7.9 million toward the establishment and operation of the GNWT portion of Thaidene Nene. The GNWT has only committed to spend $290,000 annually for the management of its portion of the protected area.

I was on the Environment and Natural Resources website recently and could not find an actual public registry as required under the Protected Areas Act. That's where I had hoped to find up-to-date information on the progress toward full establishment and implementation of Thaidene Nene. There is no public registry, and the information about Thaidene Nene does not appear to have been updated since last summer. I could find a regulation setting out the boundaries of the GNWT protected area that is a portion of Thaidene Nene, but no regulation for an establishment agreement and nothing under the Wildlife Act to establish the conservation area that is going to be part of Thaidene Nene, as well.

I will have questions later today for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources about this government's commitments to building a conservation economy and fulfilling its obligations with regard to Thaidene Nene and the Protected Areas Act as a whole. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Thaidene Nene Status
Members' Statements

Page 165

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

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Elders' Mobility Issues and Aging in Place with Dignity
Members' Statements

Page 165

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Today, I want to talk about elders aging in place with dignity. I know I sound a little bit like a broken record, but I'm going to keep on with this. I spoke about this issue last night and last week, but I want to take this opportunity to touch on the issue of mobility problems not being addressed for elders.

One of our 22 mandate items is to enable seniors to age in place with dignity. The treatment I have seen from this government toward our elders is unacceptable and undignified. I sincerely hope that all of our government departments start treating elders to a much higher standard than how they have been treated so far. I know we, as a government, can do better for them. When I say that, I am not just addressing any one department. I am saying it to the government as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, I was raised to hold our elders to a very high standard. They are our knowledge keepers, our trusted advisors, so they deserve utmost respect and top-quality treatment for whatever their needs may be.

My intent with this Member's statement is not to put any blame onto any particular department, but rather try and point out and root out the pervading, systemic treatment that elders have been receiving over the years by our government. I am sensing a strong sentiment from our department that this is the way things have always been done, so therefore, we must accept it and move on. There has got to be a better way of doing business.

However, Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that I refuse to simply accept in the long term, so just consider this image for one moment. I have an elder who is wheelchair-bound, and each and every time he or she wants to enter or exit their own home, they have to have assistance to move up and down their stairs, just to get some fresh air or to go visit, and they have to be picked up and physically carried in a wheelchair.

I wanted you to think about that for a moment. Just think of if your family member or friend had experienced that day in and day out. In my humble opinion, Mr. Speaker, this is highly undignified, and it should be remedied immediately.

Mr. Speaker, in cases like these, we should be prioritizing the immediate needs of our constituents so they, at least, can enter and exit their home without any burden or worry. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Elders' Mobility Issues and Aging in Place with Dignity
Members' Statements

Page 165

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Continuing on, if we truly support independent living for all elders, then let's show it. Let's start making our elders' homes more accessible for things like wheelchairs, for the walk to the bathroom, to make it more friendly to use and easy to use. If there is bureaucratic red tape for preventing this from moving forward, well, it's time to start cutting some of the red tape and allow the elders to receive the best service available to meet their needs. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Elders' Mobility Issues and Aging in Place with Dignity
Members' Statements

Page 165

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

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Matrix Organizational Structures
Members' Statements

Page 165

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT employs over 5,000 capable, hard-working Northerners who provide programs and services to over 44,000 residents. I believe the majority of public servants are passionate about the work they do and want to be as effective as possible. It's therefore concerning to hear of frustrations that come from working within the GNWT's siloed structure. The constraints of these silos are preventing the public service from making the most of what it has to offer.

Matrix organizations are workplaces that cut through silos, incorporating diverse talents and perspectives to solve tough problems. They are created when urgent problems require all hands on deck. Matrix organizations work both laterally and up and down; people are empowered to make things happen. Functional expertise and administrative accountability are serving the same ends. Leadership arises from all levels, and everyone has a role in success.

Changing our workplace culture to empower creative teams is hard, but the GNWT is making gains that we need to celebrate. The integrated case management team is a proactive matrix team run by Justice; Health and Social Services; housing; and Education, Culture and Employment. The program provides wraparound support to some of our most vulnerable. It acknowledges that not all people start from the same place and not every person requires the same supports. Over the course of its pilot term, integrated case management received 426 program referrals. This program employs pathfinders who connect Yellowknifers to a network of supports, building their capacity and confidence to access government.

Cross-functional, integrated teams can be more flexible, more creative, and more effective. Most importantly, they learn from both their successes and their failures, but they need room to fail fast and move forward faster. Our social and environmental problems are unique. Cookie-cutter solutions won't work. Much of what we need to do has little precedent. Integrated matrix teams need to be mandated and given the latitude to succeed.

Mr. Speaker, there are challenges associated with moving from a siloed to a matrix style of organization. Ministerial authority, as established in legislation, can be rigid, and legislation and policies will be required to support a matrix structure. I am pleased to see the progress the GNWT has been making. The deputy ministerial committee structure sets up cross-departmental working groups to ensure that GNWT departments are not working at cross-purposes with one another. In the last Assembly, the ATIPP Act was amended to permit the collection and disclosure of information to deliver common or integrated programs and services. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue.

---Unanimous consent granted

Matrix Organizational Structures
Members' Statements

Page 165

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What I am not clear on is whether these initiatives are happy accidents, or whether they represent a commitment by the GNWT to move to a more matrix-style organization. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Matrix Organizational Structures
Members' Statements

Page 165

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

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Fuel Tank Farms
Members' Statements

Page 165

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. My Member's statement today is on fuel tank farms. I believe they sprouted up in the early years, possibly in the 60's. There were private tank farms, and there were government-run tank farms. I believe, at that time, there were possibly no rigid regulations as to the set-up and the installation of the tank farms, nor ongoing inspections.

I understand that no tank farms, whether they be GNWT or private, are grandfathered from the early years. In most instances, there are known fuel spills or leakages from the tanks, and those are damaging the environment in those areas, especially the private ones that are run by private businesses, because I understand that we don't have inspectors going onto those lands. I believe we are regulating tank farm installations. At the appropriate time, I will have questions for the Minister of Infrastructure. Mahsi.

Fuel Tank Farms
Members' Statements

February 13th, 2020

Page 165

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

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Integrated Case Management
Members' Statements

Page 165

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to build on the statement given by my colleague from Kam Lake. There have been many successes of the integrated case management approach, many individual successes, but, ultimately, those pathfinders are trying to run a person-centred method of helping people in a system-centred institution.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the writing is on the wall with the upcoming evaluation of the integrated case management project. What will happen is that unit will have discovered many barriers to systemic change; there will have been many successes for people with complex needs; yet, they are not empowered to bring about the regulatory, the policy, and the legislative changes required. That is our job in this House.

I don't believe that these solutions are that complex. They require front-line workers making a "yes" the default answer. They require our front-line workers having flexibility to interpret policies that, when a person with complex needs is in front of them, they can allow the policy to work for that person. They require our departments to talk to each other and create case files for individuals with complex needs. They require our departments to email each other on the front lines.

Right now, when we want to make policy changes, we have to go up, all the way up the chain and then all the back down, and what actually should have been an easy policy shift that happened when the complex-needs individual was in front of them takes months. Mr. Speaker, we need to make housing and income support talk to each other better. We need to extend the time period that a person can be on income assistance so that they're not struggling with monthly reporting and fear of eviction and complex health needs all at the same time.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that our integrated case management unit has discovered many of the systemic problems in this GNWT. I believe that they have the solutions. The question now is: are they going to be empowered to bring about the systemic change and break down the silos in our government? Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will have questions for the Minister of Justice on integrated case management.

Integrated Case Management
Members' Statements

Page 166

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

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Yellowknife Centre.