This is page numbers 1197 - 1220 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

Question 337-19(2): Addressing Homelessness and Housing In Hay River
Oral Questions

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

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I mentioned earlier, I am very happy to see the mandate item: to establish and manage alcohol programs and a medical detox program. During the COVID-19 response, we saw a number of organic beginnings of a managed alcohol program that disabilities council provided a number of the people quarantining with daily alcohol in addition to Aspen Apartments, when people were isolating, were provided with alcohol. My question for the Minister of Health and Social Services: is there any intention to grow these programs into a proper medical managed alcohol program? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The establishment of a managed alcohol program is a commitment of the mandate of this Assembly. Research into what a managed alcohol program could look like in the Northwest Territories is something our department has done a fair bit of work at. The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed our department to move towards a managed alcohol program more quickly than anticipated in order to keep people safe and support the public health orders. Controlled access to alcohol is currently being provided as part of the COVID-19 response for homeless individuals. This is to help people stay isolated when necessary to reduce the chance of withdrawals. Alcohol is being provided, again, like the Member said, to Aspen, the former Arnica Inn, and the Inuvik warming and isolation centres. Yes, our department has done a fair bit of work. It is something that we could easily look at going forward. Thank you.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

I am very happy to hear that. The other half of this mandate commitment is a medical detox centre. Right now, our emergency centre gets overwhelmed with people due to alcohol-related issues. The commitment in this government is to reduce those by 30 percent, a very admirable commitment. One of the issues right now is that we are sending people to emergency to deal with alcoholism, and there are not always beds for them to detox. They are not always treated as they should be. My question for the Minister of Health is: when can we expect to see the medical detox program establish?

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Going forward, using insights that we have gained from this COVID experience, we have been able to work with partners to make this type of harm-reduction program a permanent part of addiction services here in the Northwest Territories. However, it's a little too early to say what this would look like or commit to anything definite, definite timeline, but we can see the importance of these programs. Because of this, we will prioritize planning to ensure that this is available ongoing.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

This was in the mandate as spring of 2023, which I thought was a little too long. I am always happy to hear that we are actually beating a mandate commitment. I want to commend the department and the Minister for all the work and the pressure that COVID has put on this. One of my issues is that the programming we are offering right now is linked to people isolating due to COVID, and I understand that. When a constituent comes to me and asks what kind of detox programs are available, what kind of addictions counselling is available, I want to know when I will be able to refer them to a managed alcohol program. My question to the Minister is: when can we expect programming to exist that I could actually refer a person to, not simply because of COVID-19?

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

I just want to put this in perspective just to let people know that we are serious about this and this is a big issue. We referenced earlier about the CAPE report, and the Northwest Territories is a little low in some of the indicators. I want to say that we've received some funding, and we hired a senior advisor. This person will be tasked in leading the coordination and addressing the problematic substance abuse here in the Northwest Territories. This is something that we received funding, we are hiring staff. This is not just a health responsibility. It's a whole government approach; it's homelessness; it's justice, just to name a few. It is a whole government approach. This is a good move in terms of dealing with this in the Northwest Territories.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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

Thank you, Minister. Final short supplementary, Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

Page 1213

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My final question is that there is a number of programs going on right now. I don't think we are quite where we want to be. I understand that we are working towards that. Can I get a sense from the Minister of whether this programming is ultimately intended to be run by an NGO, a non-profit organization, or whether we are anticipating, as a government, to be running the managed alcohol programs? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Right now, we are in the process of hiring staff. We have got a whole other government department, departments working together. Here in the Northwest Territories, we always reach out to partnerships. We work together. It's not just a GNWT problem. It's substance abuse and alcohol abuse. Here in the Northwest Territories, it's a whole-of-government approach. This is something we can look at. It is important, and we recognize that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 338-19(2): Managed Alcohol and Medical Detoxification Programs
Oral Questions

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

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Question 339-19(2): Emerging Wisely Plan
Oral Questions

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Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Today, we anticipate that the territory will move into phase 2 of the Emerging Wisely Plan, and that will enable a greater degree of freedom for NWT residents and a greater range of economic activity to resume. My question is: in what circumstances would we have to return to phase 1 or even to lockdown? Thank you.

Question 339-19(2): Emerging Wisely Plan
Oral Questions

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

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife Centre. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 339-19(2): Emerging Wisely Plan
Oral Questions

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Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As part of the public health risk assessment framework that is included in the Emerging Wisely Plan, the Chief Public Health Officer has publicly stated what might take a community or the Northwest Territories back a phase or back into containment is the most restrictive phase right now. We fully expect a second wave to come anywhere from August to November this year.

The second wave in Canada could force the Northwest Territories to go back phases if travel restrictions are not strongly implemented. Resources for checkpoints, Protect Northwest Territories, compliance, and enforcement are all important to ensure that we have proper implementation. Depending on the severity of the second wave hitting Canada and perhaps the Northwest Territories, that our testing capability, we may need to revert back to relapsing phase 1 or containment properly to protect the public health and also the residents here in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.