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 work.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson:, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek. Ms. Weyallon Armstrong:

The House met at 1:33 p.m.

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Prayer

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Minsters' statements. Minister responsible for Justice.

Ministers' Statements

Minister's Statement 198-19(2):
Corrections Act Implementation

Prayer
Prayer

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, the new Corrections Act came into force on October 29, 2021. The new act modernizes the Northwest Territories' corrections legislation to incorporate modern practices and approaches, shifting the focus of the legislation to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of people in the corrections system through a supportive environment.

The new Corrections Act strengthens our commitment to improving outcomes for the individuals we work with. To give people the best chance at success, the Department of Justice has been shifting our practices and the ways we work with people who come into our care. To implement this new act, we have updated the associated regulations, policies, and operating procedures for the corrections service and are ensuring staff are equipped with the necessary training to better support inmates, and to be leaders in the corrections service.

Mr. Speaker, the new Corrections Act recognizes the unique cultural background, historic legacy, and experiences of the people we serve in the NWT, and sets the framework for incorporating these elements into the rehabilitation process in the corrections system. Many individuals in correctional centres have experienced significant trauma and violence and are living with addiction and mental health needs. Our corrections officers are being trained to use trauma-informed practices that emphasize physical, psychological, and emotional safety for everyone.

A key change to the act provides for the establishment of community advisory boards for each correctional facility, which will allow for greater community involvement in corrections. The community advisory boards will be able to review and make recommendations on the administration of the act and will help to ensure the needs of inmates in the NWT are being appropriately met.

The new Corrections Act introduces procedural safeguards to ensure decisions are made in a fair and transparent manner and provides offenders with a complaints process to ensure their rights are respected. It provides for independent decision-making in disciplinary matters through the use of adjudicators and establishes clear processes for the handling of complaints and appeals.

Mr. Speaker, the new Corrections Act also establishes the investigation and standards office. This office provides independent oversight of the NWT corrections service. It carries out investigations and inspections, and can review complaints from inmates or people on probation while they are under the care of the corrections service. In addition, the investigations and standards office can make recommendations regarding policies, procedures, and correctional practices.

We have renewed our focus on rehabilitation, and are committed to taking new and innovative approaches to address the root causes of violence and substance use.

The South Mackenzie Correctional Centre's long-awaited transformation to a therapeutic community model is now complete. The therapeutic community model combines work, counseling, and around-the-clock behavioural modelling to address the root causes of addiction and gives residents a chance at a new beginning.

Mr. Speaker, the model is based on the principle of individuals having a role in each other's recovery. Similar programs have been shown to reduce both rates of recontact with the justice system and rates of substance use in participants. This made-in-the-north therapeutic community model utilizes established best practices and incorporates Indigenous cultural teachings. This is an exciting initiative, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on the lives of our residents.

We are moving in the right direction, but there is much work to be done as we adopt and implement new approaches.

Mr. Speaker, I have to thank the dedicated staff of the NWT corrections service who will be doing the heavy lifting that is required to adopt and implement these new approaches. They provide a valuable service to our territory 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I look forward to working with them and supporting them as we work together for the benefit of all our people. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

December 9th, 2021

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Merry Christmas, Mr. Speaker, I'll be the first one to say it today. I just want to thank all my leadership back home, my mayors, my community corp. chairs, all the frontline staff, especially the nursing stations in the communities, thank you for your hard work. For our leadership with the GTC, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation Duane Smith, and all the Inuvialuit staff that's working up, Merry Christmas to everybody, especially to my elders and to my youth. And I just wish everybody a really Merry Christmas and a better 2022, and I look forward to that. And I just want to tell all my colleagues Merry Christmas to all of you and have a blessed time with your family back home this year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Member's statement on Addictions and Mental Health
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

Weyallon Armstrong

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Okay, this is Member's statement for Health and Social Services on alcohol and drug addictions. So the NWT is in crisis situation with alcoholism and drug addictions, and we need to do a better job of supporting our people to be sober and healthy and well. Every one of us in this room has been affected by alcoholism or drug addiction. Some of our family, our own family members are struggling with this. Alcohol and drugs destroy lives and entire families. It robs people of their dreams, especially young people who still have so much life ahead of them. This is not a way for anyone to live or go through life. Youth are in their prime. They should be enjoying life - going to school, being on the land, hunting and trapping.

Mr. Speaker, I know that young people as young as 12 years old are experimenting with drugs. Parents are doing their best to work with their children but everyone needs to keep our young people safe from alcohol and drugs. They are our future leaders.

Mr. Speaker, at one time there was no alcohol or drugs in our communities. Now we see them everywhere. Crack cocaine, fentanyl, and other hard drugs are in most of our small communities.

Mr. Speaker, I am very concerned for our people that don't have control over their drinking and drugging. We know that people with heavy addictions usually end up in jail and or their lives are cut short. Mr. Speaker, we cannot wait any longer. Our people need actions from the government to support those in the grips of alcoholism and drug addictions. The government needs to be more effective and work with people in the regions and communities, not just in Yellowknife.

I am aware that 5 percent of the government operational budget is to address addictions but, Mr. Speaker, that is not enough. Mr. Speaker, the government needs to start investing in programs that respond to the needs of regions, communities, and work directly with the people where they are at. What I mean is that the government needs to meet people in their home communities and in the stage of their addictions and recovery. I have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services after. Thank you.

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Member's statement on Addictions and Mental Health
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

member's statement on Pandemic Business Support
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it has been a challenging year, not only for this government but more so for the people and businesses of the NWT. Mr. Speaker, the pandemic has created uncertainty, it has created apprehension, it has created division, it has exposed gaps in the way this government provides services to residents of the NWT. We need to acknowledge and not lose sight of those gaps if we expect to close them.

The residents of the NWT are looking for leadership, this government has less than two years to deliver, and we must not disappoint. We need to set up, step up, and be a can-do government.

Mr. Speaker, as politicians we must listen to the people as they impart their needs, wants, and dreams to each of us. It is then up to us to make it reality. Residents have expectations of us. To deliver on those expectations, it takes work and persistence. We want success for all residents and for them to have that success, we must lay the groundwork and provide the tools they require to achieve it.

Mr. Speaker, some residents have found themselves unemployed, some are working reduced hours, and there are those who are required to work beyond normal hours to meet the health needs of NWT residents - all struggling in their own way, trying to keep food on the table, trying to keep a roof over their head, trying to maintain their mental and physical well-being. We must acknowledge and respect that adversity and provide support wherever and whenever necessary.

Mr. Speaker, the businesses of the NWT have stood strong over the last two years. They have cooperated with this government throughout the pandemic. Some had to close their doors, some barely survived and are still struggling, while others flourished. During it all, these businesses continued to support their employees and residents of the NWT.

The pandemic required the government to ask a lot from northern businesses, and they met that challenge. Now is the time for all of us to show our gratitude by providing that same level of compassion through supporting their businesses now and throughout the year.

Mr. Speaker, I wish all the residents of Hay River, and those throughout the NWT, good health, safe travel, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all the best in 2022. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

member's statement on Pandemic Business Support
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

member's statement on Season's Greetings
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Merry Christmas, Mr. Speaker. Merry Christmas to my colleagues in the House. I also would like to extend a Merry Christmas to all the staff who provide valuable services to us throughout the year, each and every day, and also Merry Christmas extended to the interpretation team that provide valuable services also.

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Mr. Speaker, as this is the last day of the House sitting before Christmas and the New Year, I would like to extend appreciation to my residents of my riding Deh Cho. The Deh Cho riding communities of Katlodeeche, Kakisa, Enterprise, and Fort Providence have all stood behind me, as I have for them as the representative at the Legislative Assembly.

This past year has been especially hard on all of the communities due to outbreaks of COVID and communities isolating. This is especially true for Katlodeeche, and I am glad they were able to pull through. I extend a huge mashi cho to all the leadership in the Deh Cho riding for the diligence and caring and providing assistance to the residents during this difficult time. Your leadership has guided safeguards to preventing serious harm due to COVID. Although we may not always get what we want for our communities, we have persevered and made due with what we have. Using our own resources, whether they be people, volunteers, in-kind services, food banks, and what have you, the residents should be proud how they held themselves up to the challenges they have faced. I am proud to say I represent you as your MLA, and you have made my time here an enjoyable experience, one I will cherish heading in to the new year.

Christmas is usually hard on the most vulnerable residents of our community, and we should try our best to share and open our doors to help out. Christmas is a time for spending with family and friends, and to rid ourselves of all the stresses of everyday life and enjoy life to its fullest. On behalf of myself and my family, I extend a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to one and all. Have a good day. Mashi.

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member's statement on Season's Greetings
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Member's statement on Season's Greetings
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as we conclude a busy session, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my colleagues, including you, Mr. Speaker, and all staff of the Assembly, a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I wish everyone, including all the people of the NWT, a safe and restful winter break. A special thanks, as well, to my amazing constituents of Thebacha. It continues to be an honour serving the amazing community of Fort Smith. I also want to wish a Merry Christmas to my special community team. They know who they are. I thank my family for bearing with me while I am away. Thank you to my husband Peter, my son Mickey, and my dog Rambo, a really wild one. Have a great Christmas, everyone, and I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Member's statement on Season's Greetings
Member's Statement Onseason's Greetings

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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