This is page numbers 521 - 556 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

Income Security Issues
Members' Statements

Page 523

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I wish I was going to Inuvik.

Education, Culture and Employment offers a number of programs to support our residents in several ways. These programs include income support for post-secondary students and seniors and income assistance for low-income families and children, with additional amounts for people with disabilities.

In my time as an MLA, the majority of my constituents' issues have been related to various Income Security matters. Many recipients say that accessing the programs can be difficult, discouraging, and demoralizing. The processes for Income Assistance in particular are very rigid and prescribed in regulations, providing very little flexibility in response to client needs. In the last Assembly, the Minister of ECE conducted an administrative review of Income Security programs that included discussions with non-governmental organizations. My understanding is that the review resulted in several changes, including a process to revise the manual used by GNWT staff. To be clear, I supported that work and commended the Minister at that time.

In the last Assembly, I raised the issue of the need for an automatic review of Income Security rates and, preferably, an increase tied to CPI, Consumer Price Index, annually. Where I have seen correspondence from the department with my constituents on Income Assistance, there has never been any reference to appeal rights. Under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act, there are mandatory provisions that applicants are to be advised of their appeal rights in writing. It's not clear why this same standard is not used for our residents who are clients of our Income Security programs.

A major issue that surfaces with me in my work for constituents is the treadmill of debt that traps some recipients. In instances where Income Assistance recipients work, then lose their jobs and are penalized with reductions in their rent, food, and other allowances, recipients are left between benefit periods with nothing to live on, often falling behind in their rent.

Some jurisdictions have tried a basic income guarantee approach, and I believe we need to look at pilot project with a basic income guarantee in the context of our overall strategy to reduce and eliminate poverty. I will have questions later today for the Minister responsible for Income Security. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Income Security Issues
Members' Statements

Page 523

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

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

Government of the Northwest Territories Public Service Succession Planning
Members' Statements

Page 523

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. In June 2009, in the 16th Legislative Assembly, the Government of the Northwest Territories released a document called "20/20: A Brilliant North - NWT Public Service Strategic Plan." This strategic plan was intended to provide a 10-year framework for the development of the public service. One of its key components was the development of a succession-planning framework designed to ensure that employees were given opportunities for skills development and advancement, to support the long-term sustainability of the public service.

The document noted that employers are facing an aging workforce and that "perhaps the greatest impact is at the level of more experienced workers who have progressed to the leadership levels of the organization and take with them experience and skills when they leave."

Given the importance of succession planning, it is surprising to me to see that the most recent version of the Public Service Annual Report, the 2018-2019 annual report, makes no mention of succession planning. This makes me wonder about the current status of succession planning in the GNWT. Is succession planning a human resources trend that has fallen out of favour? Or has it evolved into a different approach with a different name? Later today, I will have questions for the Minister of Finance about:

  • What is being done to ensure that employees have opportunities to grow and improve their job skills;
  • What is being done to ensure that the corporate knowledge of our most experienced employees is retained by the organization when the employee retires; and
  • What plans does the GNWT have for a future human resources strategy to replace 20/20: A Brilliant North.

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Government of the Northwest Territories Public Service Succession Planning
Members' Statements

Page 523

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

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lake.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 523

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This Sunday, March 8, 2020, is International Women's Day, and the theme this year is Because of You, which pays tribute to the diverse and inspirational gender equality change-makers we know in our own lives.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to talk about the most inspirational woman in my life, my Granny Agnes Semmler. She was a vibrant and inspiring person; one could know this from the moment she began to talk. She was a strong advocate for women and children, as well as for the people for the Delta. She was a founding member of COPE, the Committee for Original Peoples Entitlement, a negotiator for the Inuvialuit final agreement, and a strong advocate of Indigenous rights. She served on and helped establish many boards in the community of Inuvik. In 1975, she became the first northern Indigenous woman to be appointed Justice of the Peace. In 1984, she was the first Indigenous female Deputy Commissioner of the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, although all these are remarkable, I want to tell you why she inspired me. She raised me and loved me unconditionally and always made time for me. She taught me things that some may think are not that important, but were important to me as a child, like jigging in our kitchen, which was gave me pride in my culture when I danced at many events. She instilled to me how important education was and never let me forget, as she would even have my purposely forgotten homework flown out to out camp by one of our local bush pilots during ratting season.

She taught me to hunt and skills to survive on the land. She was the example of person who truly lived her life in both worlds. I can remember watching her jump out of the boat after being on the land for a few weeks, putting the guns and our furs away and all the gear, and then putting on her famous blue suit and heading to court as the JP or one of her many meetings of the boards she belonged to.

She taught me to respect the land, and that the land was important for our future as Indigenous people. Without the land, we have no future. She taught me to respect everyone, and never forget where you came from. She taught me to stand up to what you believe, even if it takes time. She taught me resilience and to listen, and I listened to her life story from being born in the bush to attending residential school, and the many things she endured and overcome throughout her life. Because of you, I will strive to be the role model that you were to me. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 523

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

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

Appreciation for Private and Public Service Providers in Fort Smith
Members' Statements

March 5th, 2020

Page 523

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to make a statement to highlight the public and private services that all businesses and government service centres provide to the people of Fort Smith. I would especially like to thank all the service providers at the Fort Smith Health Centre, including management, doctors, nurses, wellness workers, supporting staff, and all the people who keep the buildings clean. All of these workers provided a service that is unique and professional and, while sometimes serving the public can be difficult, they always do it in the best interests of the community. I want to thank them for that.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank all the people who serve in the private sector within our community. They provide service that is client-based, and always serve all members of our community with dignity and professionalism, always keeping in mind the public relation aspect that is so important to the community of Fort Smith. Some of the businesses that I want to highlight in this statement are Northwestern Air Lease, Kaeser's Store, the Northern Store, the hotel industry, the local restaurants, the gas stations, and all the private industry within the town of Fort Smith. They donate a lot to the community in varying capacities, especially community events, and it is very much appreciated. I want to wish everyone a great weekend at the annual Fort Smith ice and snow races taking place this weekend.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge International Women's Day, which is a global celebration and recognition of women's contributions to the world. That will be celebrated on March 8th over the weekend. I hope all my constituents enjoy these festivities taking place in our community. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Appreciation for Private and Public Service Providers in Fort Smith
Members' Statements

Page 523

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

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 524

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In honour of this Sunday being International Women's Day, and my constituency assistant Cat McGurk recently receiving her Red Seal in carpentry, I want to speak about women in trades. Canada is facing a spike in trade and technology positions, without the skilled labour to fill those positions. The NWT presently heavily relies on southern labour to supply our various trade needs. Our infrastructure projects, our mines, and our private sector are all put at risk because skilled labour has become such a precious commodity in the North. We need to build up our skilled labour here. I believe one of the solutions to doing that lies with the women of the NWT.

The numbers for women in construction trades in the NWT is less than 3 percent, Mr. Speaker. That's half our population who have never been encouraged to enter the trades. The reality is that most women still don't see the trades as an option for them. Despite changing attitudes, we still avoid teaching young girls physical capacity, and most guidance counsellors neglect to discuss shop classes with female high school students. Our small communities face many unique barriers to entering a fulfilling career in the trades.

I propose we take an active stake in supporting northern women and develop a women in trades program. Other such programs in Canada have been met with terrific success; programs like Women Unlimited, with their 93 percent completion rate. Trades Discovery for Women, Trade Herizons, and Women Building Futures have a 90-percent work placement rate: proof that these programs work, and not only can women do the work they set out to do, employers want to hire them.

Often, when the idea of female-focused pre-apprenticeship programs are brought up, it is deflected by the sentiment that we must encourage all people to consider careers in the trades, not just women. We must consider all people to enter the trades but, Mr. Speaker, this Assembly is a testament that gender-based programs work. When we championed campaign schools for women, it resulted in more women entering this Assembly and, if we champion women in trades, it will result in more tradespeople, something we are in desperate need of.

Just this week, we heard the Minister of ECE say that apprenticeship in the NWT is dropping. We know women in trades programs are effective, the majority of which are based on the east coast, where they boast the highest inclusion rate for women in trades.

Mr. Speaker, we need more tradespeople, period, and there is clear data that establishing a women in trades program does exactly that. I will have questions for the Minister of ECE. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 524

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

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 524

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Before I was born, a baby girl was born in a town west of London, England. Her family moved to Canada, where she eventually achieved a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts in Journalism, and Master of Arts in History. Along the way, she fell in love with the North and served its people as a reporter, active volunteer, and now a two-term MLA. Sometimes we need to hear about how one person traveled from point A to point B to achieve their goal to help us chart our own path to success. Julie Green's Women on the Ballot Workshops were a significant catalyst that led me to this role.

This year's theme of International Women's Day is Because of You, because of the trailblazing women who went before us. Now, the same number of people serving here today is equal to the total number of women who have ever served this Legislative Assembly; Lena Pederson, Lynda Sorenson, Nellie Cournoyea, Eliza Lawrence, Jeannie Marie-Jewel, Rebecca Mike, Manitok Thompson, Jane Groenewegen, Sandy Lee, Wendy Bisaro, Julie Green, Caroline Cochrane, and now Lesa Semmler, Frieda Martselos, Paulie Chinna, Katrina Nokleby, Diane Thom, Caroline Wawzonek, and myself.

Mr. Speaker, International Women's Day does not only include women. I am the mother of three young boys, who are growing into men faster than expected and who will one day play a role in equality. Last night, at a women's leadership event hosted by the Status of Women Council of the Northwest Territories, I was asked if I find it challenging to work in a traditionally male-dominant workplace. My answer was "no" because of the work done by the women before me, and because of the quality and character of all MLAs who serve this territory today.

In addition, in my opinion, it is not just about looking back. International Women's Day is about our daughters and our granddaughters. It is about the next generation of leaders. It is about the little girls who can look at this Legislature and see a woman who served as a powerful chief, and who now serves as a passionate Member. It is about a little girl from Aklavik who loves the land she grew up on and wants to be a future Health Minister. It is about women who work in non-traditional roles knowing that they belong and that they are heard, and we all have a role to play in helping them shape their story.

Because of the vision and commitment of a woman born an ocean away, I found my own path through self-discovery to leadership. As each of you who is listening reflects on your own path of those that helped you accomplish and achieve your success, I ask you: because of who? Thank you.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 524

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

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 524

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On this, the last day of session before International Women's Day, I speak to honour all the women in my life who have fought for equality and have inspired me. It's no secret to those around me that advancing the situation of women and girls is near to my heart and, in fact, it was one of the main drivers for me to enter the realm of politics. In my career as an engineer, and throughout my life, I have often found myself with no voice and no support. I have been the recipient of unwanted touching on the work site, from unsolicited shoulder rubs to the touching of my breasts and my buttocks. I have found myself in exploration camps high on the tundra with drunken men showing up at my room, and I have been passed over for management roles only for them to go to men younger than me with less experience.

During all the hardship I've had as one of the few women in engineering in Canada where only 13 percent are women, I've been able to lean on my support system of amazing women for comfort. Earlier this year, I said goodbye to the main pillar of that support community, my mom. My mom was an amazing woman, who lifted people up, and she was my biggest champion. Born to immigrants who never completed high school, my mom was the first person in her family to attend university, where she studied education and spent over 30 years inspiring young minds as a grade one and two teacher. My mom was a single mom for a lot of my life, struggling to make ends meet while ensuring that me and my siblings never went without.

My mom was an avid reader and a lifelong learner, and she taught me to question life and to be curious. From her, I inherited a love of crossword and jigsaw puzzles, as well as a wicked sense of humour. I learned to be kind and compassionate and to live my life with good intent, and for that, I will always be grateful. Thank you to all of the moms out there, who are holding the hands of their crying daughters as their hearts are broken when the reality of the plight of women in this world slaps them across the face. If it weren't for mine holding my hand over the years, I wouldn't be standing here in front of you today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 524

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

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Range Lake.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 524

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, the theme of this year's International Women's Day is Because of You. The theme Because of You reminds me of the strongest and most influential woman I know. Today, Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize my mother, Shirley Cochrane.

Because of you, Mom, I stand in this House today. Your tribulations, successes, perseverance, and strength influenced me throughout my life.

Because of you, I learned at an early age that women were often the leaders in their families and communities. With Dad being gone most of the time, you were left alone for months on end to care for eight children, our home, and all the duties that come with both. On top of this, you still found time to join the ladies' auxiliary in recognition of our father's contribution to the Second World War and all the men and women who fought to defend the freedoms we enjoy today. Because of you, I learned that, no matter how much you have on your personal plate, it is still important to give back to your community.

Because of you, Mom, I learned to care for myself and never wait for, or expect, anyone to do things for me. With babies in both arms, children underfoot, and an endless list of things needing completion, you tackled every chore, whether it be cooking, sewing, laundry, cleaning, fixing broken items, or completing renovations needing done. I will always remember you standing on a chair changing a light fixture, and as I watched in awe, you told me, "Never wait for a man to do things for you." Your ability to tackle any challenge taught me not to be afraid to try new ideas. Because of you, Mom, I was brave enough to challenge myself and experience many things in life that others would tend to shy away from.

Because of you, Mom, I learned that one of the most important values in life is to remember to take care of those in need. No matter how many hungry children of your own you had to feed, you never said no to another child wanting food or any person needing a place to lay their head. Because of you, Mom, I also opened my own door to those in need and got to experience the joys of watching many youth transition from a place of desperation to a place of hope. Because of you, I truly understand that it takes a community to raise a child, that it only takes one person to change another's life, and that we must never leave others behind. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted