This is page numbers 2019 - 2082 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 communities.

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, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. Norn, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 2019

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Crown Corporation Boards of Directors
Members' Statements

Page 2019

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have a number of Crown and quasi-Crown corporations that utilize board of directors appointed by this government. This House has debated and voiced concern over the need to replace those current boards made up of senior bureaucrats with persons from the private sector or the general public. Mr. Speaker, we cannot expect and should not expect our senior bureaucrats to accept additional obligations and responsibilities that take away from their departmental responsibilities. If this government does not see that, then it is not fulfilling its responsibility to the residents of the Northwest Territories. The reason Crown corporations exist is to achieve a public policy objective set by this government, while being insulated and allowed to operate at arm's length. This can be a daunting task at best, and expecting to achieve it by placing senior bureaucrats to oversee such a corporation is make-believe and a fantasy.

Mr. Speaker, we have the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, a body that provides an essential service to the residents and businesses of the NWT. In 2016, the independent board was replaced based on cost-saving initiatives. The corporation is now in the process of possibly becoming a provider of electrical power to the community of Hay River. The reason that is about to happen is because of a promise by the NWT Power Corporation of cheaper power to Hay River residents and businesses. The cost of power is one cost that inherently impacts our residents and, if not controlled, can result in our residents choosing between feeding their children and paying their utility bill. It is therefore important that Crown corporations such as the Northwest Territories Power Corporation be provided the tools that will work to lower costs to its consumers. An experienced board of directors is part of the tools required to ensure efficiency while meeting this government's strategic objectives.

Mr. Speaker, in 2016, this government identified cost as a deterrent to using independent directors. I see the use of independent boards as an opportunity to provide oversight in operations and efficiency, which will result in cost savings. With respect to the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, I would envision a board of directors made up of those with credentials in finance, human resources, engineering, law, green power, private business, Aboriginal knowledge, and other disciplines. Within a corporation, the duties and responsibilities of directors are important to ensuring management is kept in check and services provided are cost effective. It is time to choose the right path when it comes to Crown corporations. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Crown Corporation Boards of Directors
Members' Statements

Page 2019

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Emergency Shelters and Warming Centres
Members' Statements

Page 2019

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We need emergency shelters in our communities. I mentioned it in this House before, and now I really need to get this sorted out for the communities of the Beaufort-Delta and especially my riding of Nunakput. Some of the larger communities are fortunate enough to have warming shelters and centres and emergency housing. That is a good thing. There are people in the communities who need them, but in this case, the communities of Nunakput, when my constituents are in need of a place to go, they have no place to go but to family.

A few weeks ago, the Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation committed to looking into the units that could be made available in the communities. I appreciate her commitment, but I still need to know which units are available in the communities, Mr. Speaker. Literally, it's a matter of life and death. I need to know what units are available. My leadership needs to know which units are available and what options we could provide for emergency shelter for our residents. As you know, it gets very cold in the delta, especially in my riding of Nunakput. People need to be able to access a warm and safe place to stay. If they cannot, the consequences could be literally fatal. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Thank you.

Emergency Shelters and Warming Centres
Members' Statements

Page 2019

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Inmate Rehabilitation
Members' Statements

Page 2019

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My Members' statement today is about the need for our NWT corrections services to focus on the successful social reintegration and rehabilitation of incarcerated individuals. The Department of Justice recently completed a workplace assessment of all correctional facilities in the Northwest Territories. The results of that assessment were obvious as it exposed several long-standing issues pertaining to staff morale, safety, and preparedness, among other things. In a previous Member's statement, I spoke about the importance of offender rehabilitation. Today, however, I will be focusing on some issues that offenders face, along with potential solutions when transitioning from life in corrections back into the community.

Mr. Speaker, the key to any successful crime-reduction strategy must include solutions that address offender crime relapses among formerly incarcerated individuals. One way our government could help offenders with successful reintegration is to expand transition and through-care programs for offenders. This can be done in many ways. However, the ultimate goal is to help offenders successfully transition back into society and to avoid further criminality. Our goal must be to ensure rehabilitation back into the community, and they must be able to address life with purpose.

Mr. Speaker, one idea in relation to corrections programming that I think the Department of Justice should consider is to expand the level of community engagement that offenders have with where they are incarcerated. Offenders should have more opportunities to help serve and work for the community in which they are incarcerated. For example, at the Fort Smith Correctional Complex, both sections of male and female offenders should be able to work in jobs that were previously offered to offenders in the community. They should be able to do the things like help seniors in and around the community shovel snow, do gardening, clean house, or take courses in the Phoenix program at the high school. Offenders should be able to do this type of work and activities regularly, but that is not the case anymore. I would like to see these programs reinstated for offenders, including the option to take courses at Aurora College. I will have questions for the Minister of Justice at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Inmate Rehabilitation
Members' Statements

Page 2019

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

National Pharmacare
Members' Statements

Page 2019

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Tomorrow, years of advocacy, consultation, and study will culminate in a vote in the federal Parliament on creation of a national pharmacare program. Bill C-213 is a rare private Member's bill that actually makes it to the floor. The Canada Pharmacare Act is based on the recommendations of the Hoskins Advisory Council and modelled on the Canada Health Act. Like our national medicare program, the Canada Pharmacare Act specifies the conditions that provincial and territorial prescription drug insurance programs must meet to receive federal funding. This includes tying federal funding to the core principles of public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and accessibility.

The legislation doesn't prescribe a specific fiscal arrangement but enables the federal government to negotiate with the provinces and territories. The federal Cabinet could reduce or withhold contributions to provinces or territories if they don't respect the conditions of funding. The federal health Minister is also empowered to create an independent drug agency in collaboration with provinces and territories.

Canada is the only country in the world with a public healthcare system that does not include prescription medicine coverage. The Parliamentary Budget Office has estimated that a national pharmacare program would reduce drug costs by about 25 percent annually or $4 billion. A universal national pharmacare system would cover an estimated 20 percent of Canadians who don't take their prescriptions now because they can't afford the costs. Canadian families will save an average of $350 per year and businesses will get relief from the increasing costs of employee drug coverage, a $750 savings per employee per year. A national pharmacare program will save the NWT money, too, and improve health outcomes. I will have questions later today for the Minister of Health and Social Services about whether our government supports Bill C-213 and what other action is being undertaken to pursue a national pharmacare program. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

National Pharmacare
Members' Statements

Page 2020

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Black History Month
Members' Statements

Page 2020

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. February is Black History Month in Canada and throughout the world. Here in the North, we have a thriving Black community that, in June, organized a rally to protest racism against Black people. This rally was organized to coincide with a growing international movement in protest of rising incidents of violent acts against people of colour.

From this, a group was formed called the Black Advocacy Coalition up North, or BACupNorth, with the goal of providing community support to Black Northerners. Its mission is to end racism and dismantle barriers to equity in law enforcement, justice, health, housing, education, research, and media. Whether you are Caribbean, of African descent, you are African-Canadian born here, BACupNorth celebrates that heritage. BACupNorth supports diversity and believes in educating for progress. Part of BACupNorth's work is to analyze materials young people are consuming in schools and push for changes in school curriculum and media for better representation of Black experiences and history. BACupNorth also empowers the Black community by sharing stories and experiences of members in the Black community and educates Northerners about Black culture, heritage, and diversity.

The issues the BACupNorth advocates for are also a reality for a lot of Indigenous people living in the North. Their goal is to work together, using available resources, to show solidarity and support Indigenous organizations to effect positive changes for everyone. The following is a statement provided by BACupNorth founder Ambe Chenemu: The Black community has come a long way. In fact, it has taken over 400 years and we are still working to be treated equally and not be punished for looking and being Black. The Black community has been forced, enslaved, and dehumanized in the worst possible manner. Four hundred years later, Black people across Canada are still working toward equality, equity, social justice, and equal opportunity. Throughout the month of February, we celebrate the resilience and contributions of the Black community to the rich and diverse Canadian heritage.

Just this month, some Black Northerners were among those recognized by Premier Cochrane for their contributions to the public service and recipients of the Premier's Award for Excellence. Black people are making a difference across our territory, and we call on government to work with and support the efforts of BACupNorth and other local organizations in making the North a better place for us all. Thank you.

Black History Month
Members' Statements

Page 2020

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Elder Abuse
Members' Statements

Page 2020

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. My Member's statement reflects the abuse suffered by the most vulnerable population of elders in the small communities. Elder abuse is a single action or repeated action or a lack of action that causes harm or distress to an older person. This abuse could be a single incident or several incidents over time. Often, more than one type of abuse is experienced by the victims. This population of elders are older and have serious mobility issues, like being confined to wheelchairs, walkers, or simply cannot walk long distances through stores. They then give out their bank cards and associated details to their caregiver, or it could be another family member. More than likely, it's someone they assume they can trust.

Another form of abuse I have been hearing about is neglect. When a family member is tasked with caring for their elderly parent at their home, they usually leave the elderly parent at a friend's home while they go out of town, sometimes up to several days, with the elder's bank card. Mr. Speaker, this form of abuse of the elderly population is most likely prevalent in many small communities, as it is in my community. I will have questions for the Minister responsible for seniors at the appropriate time. Mahsi.

Elder Abuse
Members' Statements

Page 2020

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.