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.

Topics

Timeliness of Minister's Responses to Community Inquiries
Members' Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, Mr. Speaker, I want to bring up the leadership of our government. I'm not going to pick on nobody in particular; I just want to let them know that they're in charge of the departments that they represent. The portfolios that they hold, they're the boss.

Mr. Speaker, I did tours, everybody's done tours in our communities. When you go in a community, you're talking to people, you're talking to leadership, you're talking to Elders. You're talking with people with medical issues that are literally crying to you on how could we help them.

A lot of things that are said in those meetings are not followed through and not followed through and that are not, I guess how you could say, given proper assistance to the people.

You got to remember, Mr. Speaker, we live in the small communities. We're the ones that see everything that hurts our people firsthand. And we're ready for it to happen. And for myself, I really think that some of my Ministers need help, help me in regards of, you know, to provide service for my riding of Nunakput, Mr. Speaker. I ask for certain things. I get letters six months later. In regards that's not me getting that letter, it's my leadership in the communities and they're phoning me and saying what's going on.

Mr. Speaker, I really think that -- I really want to let my leadership know across the floor, please, when the communities are sending you something, answer them in proper notice, like give them a couple weeks, not six months.

Other things like that, when we phone. A lot of the Ministers return calls right away and have no problem helping us. But at the end of the day, we forget who we work for. We work for the people - the constituents in our riding that need help and we're their voice.

Right now with some of the stuff that I got going on in my riding, I got kids, babies going to go in a tent frame. I have got the stresses of their family venting on me because stuff that's not being said and that, you know, social media just eats that up because it's my fault/not my fault. I'm their spokesperson to bring it forward for asking for help. But at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, I ask my leadership across the floor - please start doing your job. I know you are but I need help. The communities need your help. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Timeliness of Minister's Responses to Community Inquiries
Members' Statements

Speaker

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

Obstetrics Recruitment
Members' Statements

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, midwives play a crucial role in obstetrics, or OBS, which is why during last winter's sitting regular MLAs requested that Cabinet add $600,000 to the Main Estimates to expand the midwifery program in the NWT. As a result, the Department of Health and Social Services created four roles in Yellowknife to support OBS nurses. As of ten days ago, only two of the four positions located in Yellowknife had even been posted whereas Hay River and Fort Smith filled their positions this summer as the funding has been available since June.

On Monday, Members were informed that births would no longer take place at Stanton Hospital and would now be diverted to various locations in Alberta - something we heard the Minister say she only became aware of last Friday.

A midwife is a healthcare professional who cares for mothers and newborns during childbirth. A midwife focuses on the care of women birthing and conditions that need further evaluation. Midwives have the training to recognize variations of standard labor and understand how to deal with deviations that need a referral to a doctor.

Local birthing groups, such as the Northern Birthwork Collective, who presented to the Social Development Committee earlier this year, have already started a fundraiser for those affected by the obstetrics closure. Funds will help with house and pet sitting, with money provided for food as well as to find support workers, such as doulas, in Edmonton.

Suddenly, expectant parents are facing unknown and unanticipated costs at a time when they're likely already taking reduced pay to expand their family in the first place. They will fall behind because government support does not cover these emergency costs.

And Mr. Speaker, this doesn't even touch on the lack of personal supports that suddenly expectant parents find themselves without as they leave their community, something that our small community members know the heartbreak of all too well.

While 120 NWT and Nunavut individuals and families are being evacuated south because of the obstetrics closure, rumors are circulating that further closures at Stanton are imminent. This only puts Northern residents at further risk of medical evacuation during a global pandemic, compromising our health and safety, because of our nursing shortage; a shortage that the Minister should have been well aware of before last Friday considering we've been discussing this for two years now and felt it was important enough to include in the mandate of the 19th Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Obstetrics Recruitment
Members' Statements

Speaker

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

Nursing at Stanton Territorial Hospital
Members' Statements

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, to identify where we need to go, we need to be honest about where we are. I acknowledge that this can be hard to hear, but high-stress shift work GNWT environments have systemically struggled before with workplace morale, safety, and employee satisfaction, and the GNWT has a responsibility to address this.

Mr. Speaker, past and present NWT nurses shared the following reflections on Stanton obstetrics: Requests for change through meetings, surveys, and workplace assessments go unaddressed. OBS asked for a fourth shift nurse. Management denied this because lower birth rates. Still, nurses feel this does not acknowledge the impacts of global increases to patient acuity and chronic illness that require higher levels of care or the non-nursing duties expected during a shift.

OBS nurses have an extensive certification list compared to nursing specialties and unlike other units do not have designated education days to complete them. Nurses are being denied mandatory courses due to operational requirements and, as a result, some work with expired certifications. All other Stanton nurses have flex days with no patient care responsibilities to complete this work.

In addition to nursing duties like assessing patients, providing NICU care, doing inductions and C-sections, and providing phone advice, these nurses are also expected to stock patient rooms; print parent forms, leaves with medical travel, boarding homes, and pharmacies; do patient charts, admit patients, coordinate dietary needs, and maintain certifications.

I can't believe I just licked my finger, sorry.

Nurses are routinely denied vacation because there is no staff to cover them. They are denied part-time positions until the full-time positions are filled, and this lack of family vi -- sorry, family balance is driving nurses away from frontline shift work. 12-hour shifts mean children aren't awake when a parent goes to work and are already in bed when the parent returns. Nurses are tired, overwhelmed, and feeling unheard.

OBS is in crisis because of, quote, "un-supportive management that feels more concerned about me drinking water at my desk than unsafe working conditions putting patients at risk. We were treated like we were replaceable, so we left, and now no one can replace us."

Mr. Speaker, sometimes we become so focused on the science of operations that we lose sight of the heart. Nurses consistently identified four potential solutions:

  • Four nurses per shift;
  • A ward clerk to help with non-nursing duties;
  • Time to complete certifications; and,
  • Access to family-friendly work shifts.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--- Applause.

Nursing at Stanton Territorial Hospital
Members' Statements

Speaker

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Costs for Testing Unvaccinated Employees
Members' Statements

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have received numerous emails from constituents who read the CBC article that came out indicating this government will be covering the full costs for testing and PPE of those accommodated employees who are not vaccinated, or are only partially vaccinated.

Mr. Speaker, I have no issue with this, if it is based on those that require accommodation centered on the two conditions set out in the GNWT's vaccination policy with respect to medical exemptions. Those persons that are not willing to accept the vaccine for reasons beyond the medical exemptions, I understood each would be responsible for the cost of their testing and PPE.

The comments and concerns in the emails received were varied. A few comments stated that we are setting up a two-tiered workforce, which is penalizing those that accepted the vaccine on the recommendation of the CPHO and Canada. Others stated that we are taking away dollars that could be spent on other uses, such as busing for communities, a place where funding would make a difference.

I heard from the NWT Metis Nation today, and they are opposed to covering costs for the unvaccinated as they are encouraging their constituents to take the vaccine.

Mr. Speaker, what is the cost for this? If one assumes an average of $50 per test three times per week, it would work out to $7800 per person per year. If we are assuming approximately 900 employees require the testing and PPE, it would come in at a monthly cost of approximately $585,000 to this government. If the federal government is covering those costs then great, but our residents need to know that.

Mr. Speaker, you can see why those that are vaccinated are upset. This pandemic continues to pit community members against each other. I am sure that those who are not willing to be vaccinated are more than willing to cover the cost of testing and PPE in order to continue working. However, what the focus has to be right now is how do we keep NWT residents safe. We have to look at the tools we have and use them to ensure people are kept safe and can still place food on the table for their families. That will allow this government to place some needed attention on the economy which will benefit businesses and northern workers. I will have questions for the Minister of Finance at the appropriate time. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Costs for Testing Unvaccinated Employees
Members' Statements

Speaker

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Community Plan for Infrastructure
Members' Statements

November 25th, 2021

Jane Weyallon-Armstrong Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, mahsi. Mr. Speaker, [Translation] we know -- we know of a -- about the renovation and replacement of Chief Jimmy Bruneau School is much needed and also about the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation also know that the plan is in the process now. But now I have to speak on behalf of my people so that they are well aware of it. [Translation Ends]

[Audio] investment and community planning around infrastructure and land development.

The community needs support to plan and prepare for the construction of a new school and the new housing units announced by the Housing Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, there is concern the school may be developed without the right infrastructure in place. The school is a critical asset in the community. A new subdivision will be needed in the community. The development of a subdivision is needed and the installation of underground water and sewer line as well as clearing for land for housing is a big concern to the community right now.

There is concern that the budget for this project may not be adequate to address these needs. I have questions for MACA and Housing regarding these concerns. Mahsi.

Community Plan for Infrastructure
Members' Statements

Speaker

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

Nursing Communication
Members' Statements

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I find it an unfortunate reality that with every GNWT crisis it takes something exploding before all the facts eventually come out.

I find it very concerning that in media articles, when our nurses are talking about our obstetrics unit, they ask for anonymity for fear of repercussions of their job, Mr. Speaker. And I think this is a systemic problem across all the GNWT.

I find it concerning that we would release any public statement on closing down a unit without first getting approval and talking to the people in that unit. And, Mr. Speaker, it seems that as these things unfold, there's one line of messaging coming from senior management and the Minister's office and then, eventually, there's another line of messaging coming from the people who actually work there.

And, Mr. Speaker, when faced with two different sources, I'm always going to trust the frontline people who actually work in that unit.

Mr. Speaker, when the explanation was given as to why we are closing down this unit, nowhere was it mentioned that in fact for years the nurses there have been demanding more position. They have been saying that they are overworked and not adequately funded in that unit. It took nurses, who now fear repercussion from that same management, to speak out publicly in the media.

Mr. Speaker, I would have thought at that press conference the first thing you would have done is got an OBS nurse to actually speak. I've never seen that happen in this government, Mr. Speaker. Now we're hearing from the midwives that despite direction and funding from this democratically elected body, the health authority has been blocking the hiring of those positions and not living up to the intent of a full midwifery program.

Mr. Speaker, once again, when faced with the reasoning coming out of senior management and coming out of the Minister's office, or the actual midwives who work there, who are once again going around a bureaucratic hierarchical communications policy and risking their jobs, I'm going to trust the people who took the risk to get the truth out. I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services about what the actual facts are and what we are going do. Because if we're going to solve this problem and we're not going to allow this to become a larger systemic problem, of which we know there are many in our health system, we need to make sure all of the facts are out and that people in those jobs feel safe communicating to the public what is actually happening. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Nursing Communication
Members' Statements

Speaker

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

Eulogy for Wesley Grossetete
Members' Statements

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Wesley Jordon Grossetete was a young man filled with many talents. We were blessed with his kind spirit who loved to joke and make everyone around him feel loved, special, and ending every conversation with a smile.

He was born on April 26th, 1985 to loving parents Alex and Ann and was the brother of Camille. He had one niece - Mackenzie. He loved her dearly.

Wesley loved his parents dearly and will always be known to others as "his roommates". Wesley was the second child of Alex and Ann. He shared many fun times with his brother as they grew up in Fort Simpson. Fond memories such as "eating lots of carrots" as Ann mentioned to her son Wesley, so as they got older he could read to her by candlelight.

He always said to his dad in secret code because, man to man, we do not always say 'I love you' so instead he would tell his dad to go to sleep where his words were telling his dad he loved him so much.

Wesley was the person that showed Star Wars to his friends and family. In his teens he would mimic different characters from the original trilogy so when the prequel trilogy came out, he watched those ones and man, he hated Jar Jar Binks, which a lot of people have. Pretty sure everybody hated him.

He always used to make sound effects of things like chopper noises, bullets going by, and of course light sabers.

Wesley loved music. He played the guitar throughout his life and would love to jam from time to time.

Unfortunately, Wesley passed away on August 9th. We cannot think of this as a loss but rather a celebration of his life. We must remember how blessed we were to have known Wesley, for his amazing laugh and the contagious love he had for each and every one of us.

May the love of family and friends surround him and provide guidance on his new journey. He will be sadly missed by all. As the parting words we said to him, say 'hello to all of your friends and family for us'. God bless.

Eulogy for Wesley Grossetete
Members' Statements

Speaker

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and community at this time. Members' statements. Returns to oral questions. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Acknowledgements. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Oral Question 801-19(2): Vaccination Requirement Policy
Oral Questions

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, every time we sit in this House, we start our meetings off with a prayer. Then we sit down and commence to divide people. We are talking about people's lives here, something that must not be lost when we're debating. So I'd ask the Minister, can the Minister confirm if this CBC news article is correct, and if so, why are we not differentiating at this time and instead providing alternate means of compliance for all employees. Thank you.