This is page numbers 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 know.

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Oral Question 793-19(2): Legal Aid for Small Communities
Oral Questions

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the issues that I guess I come across is that when people come into my office, they're looking for I guess more than legal advice. They're looking for assistance in drafting, you know, documents.

So I'd ask the Minister, would the Minister consider expanding the legal outreach lawyer's responsibilities to include the drafting of documents for clients in less complicated matters. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 793-19(2): Legal Aid for Small Communities
Oral Questions

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I know when people go to the Member's office, they go there looking for free legal work is what they go looking for and he obliges on a regular basis. So I'm thankful for that, and I know his constituents are.

The Legal Aid Outreach Clinic does provide assistance with some forms, but probably not the variety of forms that the Member's talking about.

I can look further into that. The issue comes down to the fact that that office is stretched pretty thin as it is. Their workload is maxed out so we would really need additional staff in order to do that type of work, and I would love additional staff, and I'll leave it at that for now. Thank you.

Oral Question 793-19(2): Legal Aid for Small Communities
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Hay River South.

Oral Question 793-19(2): Legal Aid for Small Communities
Oral Questions

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Yellowknife North brought up increased employment. So with my next question, and also the comment just from the Minister about requiring extra staff, the Minister can make more employment, create more employment in the communities.

So will the Minister commit to reviewing the need to expand the current number of legal outreach lawyers to include Hay River, Fort Simpson, and Inuvik. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 793-19(2): Legal Aid for Small Communities
Oral Questions

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I have identified this as a priority with the department.

There are court workers in those communities, and I know that they do provide quite a bit of assistance. As MLA, I often send constituents to them, and they do help. I know that we have asked the outreach clinic to make sure they're keeping good records on who's contacting them and about what issues, and I know they have that. I read some of those stats here and so we're doing our best to make a case to get some more positions but I can't promise anything at this point. But I would be as happy as the Member to see that happening. Thank you.

Oral Question 793-19(2): Legal Aid for Small Communities
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Deh Cho.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

November 24th, 2021

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my Member's statement highlighted the need for much needed infrastructure and services to small communities. I stated several of the types of programs and services, but one that we could start with is a safe space for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Can the Minister of Health and Social Services ensure and look into creating these spaces to provide the necessary staff required for the shelter. Mahsi.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for the question. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social Services funds five family violence shelters in the Northwest Territories. They're operated by nonprofit organizations in Tuk, Inuvik, Yellowknife, Hay River, and Fort Smith. There is a gap in service in three regions - Sahtu, Deh Cho, and Tlicho. To that end, the YWCA NWT obtained money from the federal government to do a safe house pilot project where they could establish safe houses in communities in those regions, one community in each of the three regions I've just mentioned.

I don't know if the YWCA has chosen the communities that they're going to establish the safe houses in. But I would recommend to the Member that he contact the YWCA of the NWT and express an interest in having the pilot program in his community if that's what his community wants. Thank you.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker, and mahsi to the Minister for that answer. It's too bad that I have to go ask somebody else rather than the department for help.

Mr. Speaker, most of the victims of domestic violence have family that they count on, but there is the issue of overcrowding, and we all know too well the health issues that come with this situation. Many of the families don't want to see anyone leave their community, especially with children in tow.

In small communities, we seldom ask for anything, but will the Minister take a serious look into providing the necessary infrastructure and services so we can provide this service to families of domestic violence in our small communities. Mahsi.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we don't have in the business plan or the capital plan a plan to build more shelters in more communities in the NWT. We have some supports available to people in remote communities such as a help line and the Department of Justice offers the emergency protection order program to assist as well. We realize that that is not the same as having a shelter. There is money available to bring people in to a family violence shelter. It's my experience that often women want to leave their communities in order to obtain safety. In the event they want to stay, the emergency protection order is the right tool for them. So there are resources available. But building a shelter in the Member's community is not part of the capital plan at this time. Thank you.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker, and mahsi to the Minister for that answer. Yeah, I have a problem, we have to phone a help line. You know, we're trying to do -- this government recognizes that there's reconciliation with First Nations and First Nations communities, and some of the ways that we do that is to provide them the services needed in their communities without having to leave home. I know there's a need for some of them that want to leave the community but we can still do it in a safe manner within our communities, Mr. Speaker.

I see that, you know, we need an action plan from this government to address the lack of much needed programs and services in the small communities. You know, they're much needed. Our people are the most vulnerable of all in the Northwest Territories and probably across Canada, and we really need that help and we need that government focus to look at an action plan to actually help us so that, you know, we can have such services, shelters for victims of violence, aftercare services that we've talked about quite a bit previously. We don't have any buildings at all. Nothing in our communities. There's no focus there. We want this department to start focusing on those things and with the help, probably of the whole Cabinet, all the departments should look at something for small communities, an action plan.

Can the Minister commit to beginning the action plan specific to the small communities. Mahsi.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is not possible for the Government of the Northwest Territories to provide a family violence shelter in each of the 33 communities of the NWT. We simply do not have the money; we do not have the staff. And it is, I recognize, an important need. I spent many years of my career working for the YWCA on family violence issues. And if we were going to invest money in anything, I'd like it invested in putting police into every community. There are a third of communities that do not have police resident in the community. We also have a third of the communities that do not have nurses resident in the community. So if I was going to spend money, I might have different priorities than the Member has.

In terms of an action plan, I am going to narrow that down to a family violence action plan. My colleague, the Minister of Finance, has under her control the gender equity unit. There's a family violence coordinator hired into that unit, and that person is working on a family violence strategy. I'm sure there will be robust engagement with small communities about their needs and aspirations in order to come up with a document that will address the family violence needs that we are aware of. Thank you.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Deh Cho.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I see the Grinch has shown up early. Christmas is around the corner, and my stocking is going to be empty going home. I'm not too pleased with the government's action plans for our small communities, and stating that we need to increase RCMP presence in our communities. We already did that when the Deh Cho Bridge was built. They added two more staff, so we got a total of four RCMP in your communities. They're overworked. You know, there's lots of issues within our small communities and we really need that help, and we need that government to have that focus to help our small communities. We're just not getting that here. I'm not sure where we're going to turn to. I guess we'll just have to keep addressing the issues and bringing them up. You know, I really -- we're going to be counting on my colleagues here to really put the pressure on this government to help our small communities. I don't have any further questions, Mr. Speaker. Mahsi.

Oral Question 794-19(2): Services for Small Communities
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. I will take that as a comment. Oral questions. Member for Thebacha.