This is page numbers 345 - 392 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 going.

Topics

Question 121-19(2): Arnica Inn Transitional Housing Project
Oral Questions

Page 354

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you to the Minister for that. One of the lessons learned for me is that communication is really poor around this application process. Is there a way for the NWT Housing Corporation to receive the application as a copy, knowing that there is no adjudication by the Housing Corporation; it's up to CMHC, but can you at least receive the same information that they receive so that you understand what's being requested and how you can support it? Thank you.

Question 121-19(2): Arnica Inn Transitional Housing Project
Oral Questions

Page 354

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you to the Member. The application is completed between the client and CMHC, and going forward, it's at the discretion of the applicant if they want to share that final information with the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Going forward, this is going to be something that I am going to encourage. We do need a working document, because the applicants and the clients are going to be looking for financial support from the Housing Corporation. We need something to work off of when they come forward with their ask, but going forward, I will be encouraging a copy of the application to be submitted as well to the Housing Corporation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 121-19(2): Arnica Inn Transitional Housing Project
Oral Questions

Page 354

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

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Question 122-19(2): Income Assistance Policies Regarding Operation of Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 354

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Going back to what I was saying in my Member's statement about allowing small businesses into NWT Housing Corporation units, I have some questions for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. For some context here, I'm keeping in mind these parents struggling to support their families who are on Income Assistance to get their small businesses up and running. My question to the Minister is: will the Minister commit to having a six-month grace period for individuals with their small businesses to have their Income Assistance not be affected while their business gets up and running? Mahsi cho.

Question 122-19(2): Income Assistance Policies Regarding Operation of Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 354

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

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 122-19(2): Income Assistance Policies Regarding Operation of Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 354

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is part of a broader discussion that we have been having about how we can better use Income Assistance to get people into the workforce or support self-sufficiency. The Member spoke earlier about a laissez-faire approach to business, and some of the concerns around this are, if Income Assistance is paying for rent as well as income while someone is starting a small business, that puts them at advantage over other people who have other expenses, to pay for office space, and things like that.

That being said, the Member makes a very good point. You can't get back on your feet if, as soon as you're making a bit of money, you're knocked down. People who collect Income Assistance are not automatically disqualified once they start a small business. If they still meet the requirements, they are still eligible for Income Assistance.

That's a long way to say that this is a bigger question than just saying yes right now. The review that we're doing in terms of Income Assistance is a big review. It's looking at what we want this program to accomplish. I can't make this commitment, because it's going to cost money to do what the Member is asking. That has to go through the Financial Management Board, and it has to go through this Assembly. That being said, I am looking at ways to reform the system to make sure that we help people get ahead and don't contribute to keeping them down. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 122-19(2): Income Assistance Policies Regarding Operation of Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 355

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you to the responding Minister. That's encouraging. Again, I'm hoping to see more of our other departments working with each other, because this is a multidepartment issue. I am hoping to hear from the Minister whether he's willing to work with the other departments to get this done and have a policy moving forward that makes sense, that will encourage small business owners to get on their feet.

Question 122-19(2): Income Assistance Policies Regarding Operation of Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 355

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Absolutely. This government is all about collaboration and breaking down silos. I have to work with the Housing Corporation, as I've stated before. When we're talking about small businesses, I have to work with ITI. I am absolutely going to do that, and I am going to have to work with the committees of this Assembly, as some of the changes that are being discussed would require legislative changes that would have to go through the committee stage.

Question 122-19(2): Income Assistance Policies Regarding Operation of Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 355

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

Thank you, Minister. The time for oral questions has expired. Item 9, written questions. Member for Monfwi.

Written Question 5-19(2): Tlicho All Season Road Project Contracts
Written Questions

Page 355

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Mr. Speaker. [Translation not available]

I have a couple of written questions for the Minister of Infrastructure. Can the Minister of Infrastructure please provide a breakdown or detail of all the contracts and subcontractors at the Tlicho all-season road construction, and please provide addresses for these contracts and the length of their contracts. In addition, provide some details of O and M contracts and subcontracts after the construction is completed in 2022. Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Written Question 5-19(2): Tlicho All Season Road Project Contracts
Written Questions

Page 355

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

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Written questions. Item 10, returns to written questions. Mr. Clerk.

Return to Written Question 2-19(2): Aurora College President
Returns To Written Questions

February 28th, 2020

Page 355

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

Mr. Speaker, I have a Return to Written Question 2-19(2) asked by the Member for Yellowknife Centre on February 6, 2020, related to the president of Aurora College and associate deputy minister of post-secondary education renewal.

I would like to advise you that the executive search firm hired to assist in finding qualified applicants for this position was paid a total of $80,224.08 for their services.

Deputy Head salary ranges are publicly available on the GNWT website and range from $182,805 to $279,289 per annum effective April 1, 2019. I can confirm that the salary offered and accepted was within this pay range.

Provisions for relocation expenses are outlined in the Senior and Manager's Handbook, page 16, and can include transportation, accommodations, meals, and incidentals, excess baggage, packing, storage of effects, real estate, and legal fees. It should be noted that deputy heads may negotiate further provisions as part of their individual contracts. The average cost in 2019-2020 to move a senior manager to Yellowknife from all locations Canada wide was $21,600.

Although the question posed was not for the direct severance provisions included in a specific individual's contract, the standard provisions would too closely reflect Dr. Weegar's conditions of employment. This type of disclosure is prohibited under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act

Additionally, as the privacy protections of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act do not allow the release of specific compensation information in relation to an identifiable individual, we believe disclosure of the standard compensation formula provided for in the severance provisions included in a deputy ministers employment contract and the standard severance cost of ending a deputy ministers employment contract at the one year mark would be releasing information that is protected under the act. Although the Member's request is made from a standard perspective, the requested information is clearly tied to Dr. Weegar's employment given the reference to Dr. Weegar's title and when he was hired. In this context, we believe we would be publicly disclosing information that is protected under the act. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Return to Written Question 3-19(2): Indigenization of Prison Populations
Returns To Written Questions

Page 355

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

Mr. Speaker, I have a Return to Written Question 3-19(2) asked by Member for Monfwi on February 6, 2020, regarding the Indigenization of prison populations.

  1. In the past 10 years, what programs and initiatives has the territorial government launched to keep Indigenous people out of jail, and what do the evaluations of those various programs and initiatives conclude about effectiveness of each?

The GNWT has supported diversion for youth and adults since 1994, including the implementation of the NWT Youth Justice Act, solidifying our commitment to diversion as a fundamental part of providing an alternative to custody for NWT residents who have committed certain types of offenses. The Department of Justice Community Justice Program provides funding for restorative justice programming at the community level, as well as the facilitation of formal diversion of matters from the traditional justice system.

Community justice coordinators and volunteer committees work together in communities to provide these services from their unique local perspective. Committees consist of volunteers who represent the community and assist the Coordinators with formal diversions, community service, and local crime prevention initiatives. The Community Justice Program is focused on collaboration and inclusivity, culturally relevant and responsive to specific communities as the programs are delivered by sponsoring agencies in those communities. These efforts were included in a 2011 review of the Community Justice Initiative. NWT Community Justice Review: Together We're Better "Looking Ahead" was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on May 19, 2011.

For eligible offenders whose cases do go to court and who take responsibility for their actions by pleading guilty, the NWT Wellness Court and the Domestic Violence Treatment Options or DVTO Court provide alternatives to conventional court that focus on the offender rather than the offence. Wellness Court applies a model that seeks to address underlying issues of drug and alcohol addiction, mental health and cognitive challenges. Social program departments and agencies support the Wellness Court and are participating as necessary to implement the case plans of Wellness Court clients. The DVTO Court is an option for low to medium risk offenders who agree to attend an eight-module program. Successful completion of either court program is a mitigating factor in sentencing. The Department of Justice is preparing to complete an evaluation of specialized court programs in the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

  1. What proportion of territorial prison staff are Indigenous, broken down by employment category, especially management, program delivery, and guards?

Across all NWT correctional facilities, 58 percent of Corrections managers consisting of all levels of wardens and supervisors are Indigenous Aboriginal. Similarly, Indigenous Aboriginal employees also constitute the majority of all employees at both the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre, where 20 out of 34 or 59 percent of employees are Indigenous Aboriginal and the Fort Smith Correctional Complex where 19 out of 37 or 51 percent of employees are Indigenous Aboriginal.

At the North Slave Correctional Complex or NSCC in Yellowknife, the proportion of Indigenous Aboriginal employees is lower at 18 percent, but equal to that of Indigenous non-Aboriginal employees. NSCC is the largest correctional facility and the higher numbers of staff there affects the overall proportions of Indigenous Aboriginal corrections officers at 23 percent and program delivery staff, at 37 percent, which includes case managers, instructors, traditional counsellors, and psychologists across NWT corrections.

All NWT correctional facilities integrate Indigenous culture and traditions with input from elders, traditional liaison officers and the participation of other Indigenous staff.

  1. What proportion of territorial prison staff is dedicated full time to counselling, vocational training, and educational upgrading for inmates, and what share of the total correctional system appropriation is allocated for those purposes?

It is difficult to quantify the proportion of staff in NWT correctional facilities that are dedicated full time to counselling, vocational training, and educational upgrading for inmates because such duties are inherent in the work of all frontline corrections staff through the practice of direct supervision of inmates in a living unit. Direct supervision ensures staff visibility and constructively interact with offenders toward a safe working and living environment for all. It involves consideration of factors that affect an offender's behaviour and interactions, including mental health concerns, and the recording and sharing of such factors with specialized staff. Direct supervision by corrections staff supports offenders to engage in pro-social and responsible behaviour.

All correctional officers and staff receive mental health first aid and conflict resolution training by certified instructors. Case managers support offenders in their learning journey in the correctional facility, helping to select appropriate programming and to build a supportive network toward rehabilitation and community reintegration.

The breakdown of specific positions by facility is as follows:

  • At the North Slave Correctional Complex dedicated positions are two psychologists, four case managers, one traditional counsellor, two institutional teachers in the adult unit, and one institutional teacher in the youth unit;
  • At the South Mackenzie Correctional Centre or SMCC dedicated positions are: one psychologist, five traditional counsellor positions of whom one is focussed on addictions counselling, and one case manager. Services of a literacy teacher are provided on contract. The SMCC is transitioning to a therapeutic community to offer even more holistic supports to eligible offenders; and
  • At the Fort Smith Correctional Complex dedicated positions are one counsellor and one institutional teacher.

In addition, several dedicated program delivery officers in correctional facilities and in community corrections deliver programming to address the needs of offenders such as violence prevention and building healthy relationships.

  1. What has our correctional system done to enhance access to screening, diagnosis and treatment of offenders suffering fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, and similarly, what non-traditional approaches have our courts adopted for dealing with such offenders?

The Department of Justice is well aware that many people who come into contact with the criminal justice system suffer from Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder or FASD or cognitive disabilities brought about through adverse life experiences. These individuals require supports appropriate to their needs and circumstances.

The Department of Justice has taken an approach beyond just FASD to look at the needs of people who may live with FASD and other cognitive challenges affecting daily functioning. This removes the burden of having to secure a diagnosis under the fetal alcohol spectrum or another medically identified condition. In 2011, Justice established a functional assessment committee tasked with identifying tools that determine the level of functioning of offenders related to social skills, daily living skills, and basic indicators for mental capacity. This led to the piloting and implementation of mental health screening tools for men and women that are now used in all NWT correctional facilities.

In corrections, the specific needs of each inmate are identified on admission to custody or community corrections. These needs are reviewed throughout the period during which the individual is under the supervision of NWT Corrections. This includes the option to refer inmates to the new territorial adult FASD diagnosis and support program established in January 2020 by the Department of Health and Social Services.

However, an FASD or other medical diagnosis is not required for an offender with complex needs to access adapted services and supports in NWT Corrections.

NWT Corrections uses an inclusive approach and provides services and supports to offenders and inmates with cognitive difficulties and other complex needs on a case-by-case basis. Individuals with suspected FASD, but not necessarily diagnosed, would fall into this group. Inmates in NWT correctional facilities who are unable to participate in criminogenic programming due to cognitive limitations may be considered for an alternative individual program on a case-by-case basis.

As mentioned in response to the first question, the Department of Justice community justice program provides funding for restorative justice programming at the community level, as well as the facilitation of formal diversion of matters from the traditional justice system. Within the court system, the NWT Wellness Court provides an alternative to conventional court for eligible offenders not yet sentenced and who take responsibility for their actions by pleading guilty.

  1. What progress has the Minister's department made in response to the 18 separate "calls to action" contained in the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission report relating to justice and correctional matters?

"Meeting the Challenge of Reconciliation: The Government of the Northwest Territories Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action" highlights the many steps that the GNWT has already taken to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal peoples, help restore and heal Indigenous communities, and ensure that Indigenous cultures and traditions are recognized and valued. This GNWT initial response was tabled on October 5, 2015. An update on the GNWT response to the calls to action was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on March 8, 2017.

The Department of Justice continues to move forward with related work, including working with other provinces and territories in federal, provincial, and territorial justice forums, to ensure action is taken. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Return to Written Question 3-19(2): Indigenization of Prison Populations
Returns To Written Questions

Page 356

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

Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Returns to written questions. Item 11, replies to commissioner's address. Item 12, petitions. Item 13, reports of committees on the review of bills. Item 14, reports of standing and special committees. Item 15, tabling of documents. Item 16, notices of motion. Item 17, motions. Item 18, notices of motion for first reading of bills. Item 19, first reading of bills. Item 20, second reading of bills. Item 21, consideration in Committee of the Whole of bills and other matters: Tabled Document 30-19(2), Main Estimates 2020-2021; Tabled Document 43-19(2) Supplementary Estimates (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 1, 2020-2021. By the authority given to me as Speaker by Motion 1-19(2), I hereby authorize the House to sit beyond the daily hours of adjournment to consider the business before the House, with the Member for Yellowknife Centre in the chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 356

The Chair Julie Green

I now call Committee of the Whole to order. What is the wish of committee? Mr. Norn.