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.

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Motion to Have Committee Report 9-19(2) Deemed Read and Printed in Hansard in its Entirety, Carried
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 2022

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Motion to Have Committee Report 9-19(2) Deemed Read and Printed in Hansard in its Entirety, Carried
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 2022

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Committee Report 9-19(2): Report on the Chief Electoral Officer's Report on the Administration of the 2019 Territorial General Election
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

February 23rd, 2021

Page 2022

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Introduction

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures (committee) is pleased to report on its review of the Chief Electoral Officer's Report on the Administration of the 2019 Territorial General Election.

The Elections and Plebiscites Act requires the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) to present a report on the administration of the election within six months of the election. The report has any matters the CEO thinks should be brought to the Legislative Assembly's attention. It also includes recommendations on how to improve election administration and any suggested amendments to the act. The report is sent to the Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures to review, hold hearings with the CEO, any witnesses the committee thinks necessary, and the public at large. The committee then reports to the House which recommendations should be adopted and the committee's review of potential amendments. This report has committee's response to the CEO recommendations, to the public submissions received, and to the recommendations of two expert witnesses.

Background

The 2019 territorial election was held on October 1, 2019. Online ballots were available for the first time in any provincial or territorial general election in Canada. The election also saw the highest number of female candidates ever and resulted in a near equal number of female and male Members of the Legislative Assembly.

The CEO issued her report on the administration of the 2019 election in March 2020, which contained 88 recommendations for consideration. The committee held public briefings with the CEO on June 10, 2020, with experts on online voting on June 30, 2020, and September 9, 2020, and a hearing with the public on September 21, 2020, during which committee received presentations from MLA Julie Green, David Wasylciw, and OpenNWT.

Online Voting

Committee heard the most comments on the use of online ballots. This was the first election where online ballots were used, and committee had two expert witnesses present on the advantages and risks of online ballots. Dr. Aleksander Essex is a professor of software engineering at Western University in London, Ontario. He is an internationally recognized expert in election cybersecurity. He has studied the use of online voting in Canada and around the world. Dr. Nicole Goodman is a professor of political science at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. She has studied the effects of online voting on voters and election administration in general.

The committee thanks both expert witnesses for their presentations and answering questions. They informed committee's discussions and raised numerous points committee found useful when coming up with recommendations.

The CEO recommended creating a new section of the Elections and Plebiscites Act to establish procedures in respect of voting by online ballot. The committee notes that Section 132.1 states "the Chief Electoral Officer may, in accordance with the regulations, establish procedures in respect of voting by absentee ballot by electronic means." There are currently no regulations in place. Dr. Essex, Dr. Goodman, and Mr. Wasylciw all recommended that standards be developed, including technical cybersecurity standards. With online voting being a relatively untested technology, not just in Canada but internationally, the committee agrees that legally binding standards are required.

Dr. Essex and Dr. Goodman co-wrote a paper earlier this year outlining principles to be adopted that the committee found helpful, which are:

  1. Secrecy. The association between a voter's identity and vote is secret;
  2. Equality. A voter shall not be able to cast more votes than another, nor be prevented from casting a ballot;
  3. Accessibility. The election shall be accessible to voters. Each voter must have the means and opportunity to participate;
  4. Fairness. Voters and candidates shall be treated fairly and consistently;
  5. Dependability. The election shall deliver an outcome in a reliable and timely manner;
  6. Accuracy. A cast vote must accurately reflect the voter's intended preference;
  7. Correctness. The election outcome must reflect the correct combination of valid cast votes;
  8. Confidence. Voters and candidates must be confident in the correctness of the election outcome; and,
  9. Transparency. The election is to be conducted in a manner that is transparent and accountable to voters and candidates.

While these principles keep with the spirit and intent of current election law in the Northwest Territories, Dr. Essex's presentation flagged how online voting can compromise secrecy, correctness and accuracy, and transparency. Secrecy may be compromised as, using authentication questions, an elector's identity can be determined. Correctness and accuracy may be compromised, as there is no mechanism in place to allow an elector to verify that their vote was correctly counted. Transparency may be compromised, as there are no paper ballots to recount in the event of a disputed result. All of this can bring confidence in the electoral system into question.

Recommendation 1

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to require regulations be developed governing voting by electronic means, including setting cybersecurity standards, technical specifications, procurement guidelines, and an audit mechanism.

Due to the work that still needs to happen around online voting, the committee does not recommend creating a new section in the act splitting online ballots from absentee ballots at this time.

Election Rebate

MLA Julie Green presented to committee on the recommendations from the Special Committee on Increasing the Representation of Women from the 18th Assembly, which she chaired. One recommendation from the special committee's report was to create an election rebate program. Eight provinces and the federal government all have rebate programs to reimburse candidates for expenses related to running for office.

MLA Green provided the committee with research that had been done for the special committee. She recommended that committee consider a rebate program for candidates of 50 percent of eligible expenses to a maximum of $3,000. MLA Green argued this would reduce barriers to running for office, especially for women. Only money spent by the candidate is eligible to be counted towards the total amount. Any donations received would reduce this amount. A minimum vote threshold of 5 percent of all votes cast should be met. Based on these criteria, MLA Green projected that the total cost of a rebate program for the 2019 election was $50,000.

The committee supports a rebate program with the following criteria:

  • 50 percent of eligible expenses with a maximum rebate amount of $3,000 per candidate;
  • A candidate must receive a minimum of 5 percent of votes cast in that electoral district;
  • A candidate's official agent must file their complete financial paperwork by the deadline;
  • Acclaimed candidates would also be eligible for a rebate;
  • Only those cash expenses incurred by the candidate and not offset by fundraising are eligible, and the committee recommends that alcohol and cannabis be excluded as eligible expenses; and
  • The CEO shall include in the report on the administration of the election details on how much the election rebate cost for that election.

The committee also felt that the limits should be examined after each election, as part of the review of the CEO's report.

Recommendation 2

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that Elections NWT implement and administer an election rebate program as laid out in this report for candidates starting with the 2023 Territorial Election.

Register of Electors

The CEO recommended email addresses be included in the Register of Electors. As noted by our predecessor committee, the collection of electors' email addresses is potentially a useful tool in improving the list of electors. However, committee cautions that Internet service and use of email varies considerably from community to community.

The committee heard a concern from Mr. David Wasylciw about the potential use of email addresses and how privacy rules apply. The committee recommends that use of electors' email addresses should be restricted under Section 54(5) of the Elections and Plebiscites Act, ensuring they are not provided to candidates or used to send general information.

Recommendation 3

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that "email address" be included under Section 54(2) of the Elections and Plebiscites Act. Further, that email addresses should only be used to maintain or update the Register of Electors and not be shared with any candidate.

The CEO also recommended that Section 55.1(1.1) be amended to include dates of birth and citizenship in the list of information to be provided to the CEO by the Director of Medical Insurance, the deputy minister responsible for student financial assistance, and the deputy minister of Justice. The CEO also recommends that the deputy minister responsible for the Motor Vehicles Act be included in this list.

The committee agrees that information held by government departments should be accessible for the purposes of keeping the Register of Electors up to date. The committee reviewed clauses from other jurisdictions and noted that several used "public body" instead of listing individual departments. This should provide the CEO with authority to request from any department the information needed to update the Register of Electors.

Recommendation 4

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to require a public body at request to provide the personal information held by that body.

The CEO recommended the act be amended to remove the deadline to provide a list of electors to returning officers at least seven days before polling day. While committee recognizes that the list is managed electronically, there should still be a requirement in the act to provide it as soon as possible, as the returning officer is then responsible for providing the list to the candidates for that riding.

Recommendation 5

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that Section 73 of the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to state that the list of electors shall be provided to candidates as soon as possible.

The CEO recommended deleting the requirement to publicly post the list of names of electors who have been struck off this list. The committee reviewed legislation from other jurisdictions and noted that, elsewhere, it is restricted as to who may make the request to delete someone or puts requirements on the returning officer to make all efforts to contact the individual in question. Committee feels that deletions from the Register of Electors should be made public to ensure electors are not wrongly removed.

There are also recommendations around striking names from the voters' list for those who have applied for absentee ballots. While committee understands the list is maintained electronically, there is still a need to keep in legislation the requirement to strike names from the list and a way for those who have applied for an absentee ballot to revoke that application.

Mr. Wasylciw recommended that an enumeration take place prior to the 2023 election. The committee notes that, while enumeration remains an option available to the CEO, it is an expensive one. Members found the lists in 2019 were improved over 2015. Mr. Wasylciw also recommended that the residency requirement be dropped to four months from the current six months. The committee notes that the residency restriction was dropped to six months following the 2015 election and is now in line with most other jurisdictions.

Indebtedness

The CEO recommended the committee review and consider an amendment to prevent someone from running for office if that person owed a debt to the government. There is a similar restriction in the Local Authorities Elections Act, which governs municipal elections. However, territorial elections fall under Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states: every citizen of Canada has the right to vote in an election of Members of the House of Commons or of a Legislative Assembly and to be qualified for membership therein.

The committee sought a legal opinion from the law clerk on whether an amendment as suggested by the CEO would be constitutional. The law clerk believed such an amendment would violate Section 3 of the Charter but noted that the question is whether the violation can be justified. A Charter infringement can be justified where the following test is met:

  1. The law creating the infringement must have a pressing and substantial objective;
  2. The means chosen to meet that objective must be proportionate, in that:
  3. They are rationally connected to the law's objective;
  4. They limit the Charter right in question as little as reasonably possible in order to achieve the law's objective; and
  5. The law's positive effects are proportionate to its negative effect on the affected Charter right.

It is unclear what such an amendment would do to protect the integrity of the electoral system. The CEO noted that some people had raised concerns with the lack of consistency in the two election acts. This alone would not justify the infringement. Municipal elections are not subject to the Charter and can have different requirements for eligibility. The committee received no public submissions in support of an amendment, and the committee does not support pursuing an amendment.

MLA Simpson (Hay River South) recused himself from all discussions on this recommendation.

Liquor Sales

Committee had a long discussion about repealing the prohibition on liquor sales while polls are open. Committee discussed the ongoing concerns with alcohol in many communities, including the restrictions put in place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no public submissions that addressed the sale of liquor.

Absent a more thorough public review of liquor and legal drugs, the committee believes public support for removing the prohibition would be mixed. The committee instead proposes that the act be amended to also include a prohibition on the sale of cannabis on polling day.

Recommendation 6

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that Section 121 and Section 309 of the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to include a prohibition on the sale of cannabis during the hours a poll is open on polling day.

Recommendation 7

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to expressly prohibit liquor and cannabis as campaign expenses.

Multi-District Polls

The CEO has recommended that the sections of the act dealing with multi-district polls be repealed, as they were not well used in 2015 and not used at all in 2019. The committee noted that, in 2011, the previous CEO spoke highly of the multi-district polls held that year.

During committee's discussion, Members noted there was nothing in the act requiring a multi-district poll to be held. It is one option out of many authorized in the act. As such, the committee does not recommend removing this as an option for future elections.

Polling Place

The CEO recommended including "image capturing device" as a prohibited item in a polling station. This is in addition to the already banned use of a cell phone, computer, or other communication device. Mr. Wasylciw recommended that the legislation ban the taking of photos or videos but not specific devices.

Committee agreed no one should be allowed to photograph or film a polling station. It was then discussed whether texting should be banned. The committee felt that the purpose of this section is to ensure the secrecy of the ballot and to maintain peace and order at a polling station. For example, the rule prevents someone from speaking on the phone and disturbing others. It would also prevent someone reporting back to a campaign when someone has voted within earshot of other voters. However, committee believes someone should not be penalized for handing a phone to a child to keep them occupied while the parent waits to cast a vote. Therefore, committee recommends:

Recommendation 8

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to prohibit photography, videography, or phone calls within the polling station and to authorize the Chief Electoral Officer to issue guidance on the usage of electronics in polling stations.

The CEO also recommended that a candidate's polling agent be barred from assisting an elector in marking a ballot. Committee agrees this is a reasonable restriction. Polling agents are there to monitor the election, not to assist anyone in voting.

Recommendation 9

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to prohibit a candidate's polling agent from being able to assist an elector in casting a vote.

Mr. Wasylciw raised the possibility of allowing electors to vote for their home electoral district from any polling station in the territory. Mr. Wasylciw argued that in communities with multiple polling districts, an elector who went to the wrong polling station would not likely go to the correct location. The committee is uncertain what impact this could have on vote counting, especially in cases where votes cast in another community would have to be shipped back to their home polling district for counting. This could have an impact on announcing the results on election day. Therefore, committee recommends:

Recommendation 10

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Chief Electoral Officer investigate how other provinces or territories allow residents to cast votes from any polling station and report back to the Legislative Assembly within six months on the outcomes of that investigation.

Mr. Wasylciw also recommended there should be enhanced election day advertising and signage with polling locations in accessible buildings. The committee encourages Elections NWT to use more signage to indicate where polling stations are located and to ensure polling stations are accessible to all voters.

Election Witnesses

The CEO recommended that the act be changed to no longer require two electors to be present during the counting of ballots if no other witnesses are present. The CEO recommended that a new position, a counting clerk, be created as an election official.

Committee reviewed legislation from across the country, and noted several provinces and Canada still require electors to act as witnesses if no candidates or their representatives are present. However, the committee agreed that finding electors to witness the count can be difficult. The CEO flagged that some candidates' polling agents, who under the act are not entitled to be paid to witness the count, felt they were entitled to be paid as they were taking the place of witnesses. Committee agreed this behaviour is not acceptable.

Committee found the language under Section 119 of British Columbia's Act to be helpful; requiring a voting officer and one other official, with candidates permitted one representative each.

Recommendation 11

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to remove the requirement for electors to act as witnesses. An election officer and one other election official should be required, with candidates permitted one representative each.

Financial Reports

The CEO recommended changing the act to allow for electronic filing of a candidate's financial report. The committee agrees that official agents should be allowed to file paperwork electronically.

Recommendation 12

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to allow for a candidate's financial report to be submitted electronically.

Special Voting Opportunities

Mr. Wasylciw noted that anyone who chose to vote early in the office of the returning officer was provided with a write-in ballot. This ballot did not have the photos of candidates on it. This raises the possibility that an elector with low literacy skills may not be able to cast their vote independently. Committee noted that the change to allow for voting the day after nominations closed was made following the 2015 election to expand opportunities to vote. While the committee supports expanded voting opportunities, it believes advance voting ballots should match those used on polling day. The committee proposes changing when voting in the office of the returning officer starts, from 24 days before polling day to 21 days. This would allow ballots to be printed with candidates' names and photos, as laid out under Section 110(3) of the act.

Recommendation 13

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that Section 144(1) of the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to allow for voting in the office of the returning officer to commence on the 21st day before polling day.

The CEO recommended removing the legislated timeframe to apply for an absentee ballot, currently set at 10 days before polling day. The CEO suggests it be changed to a date and time to set by the CEO. Committee notes there are other specific timeframes in the act related to absentee ballots, notably when to apply to cancel that ballot and be reinstated in the Register of Electors as not having voted. Committee also reviewed previous recommendations and noted that in 2011 concerns were raised about leaving the application period open too close to polling day, as mailed absentee ballots may not arrive on time. While this is not a risk with online voting, 10 percent of all absentee ballots were still mailed, predominantly from small communities. Committee chose not to make a recommendation for this reason.

Mr. Wasylciw recommended allowing mail-in ballots to be counted provided they are post-marked by polling day, not just received. While this process is used in other jurisdictions, most notably in some states in the recent American election, it is not a change committee is ready to endorse. The committee does encourage Elections NWT to ensure voters applying for absentee ballots are told of the requirement to have the ballot received by Elections NWT by polling day, not mailed on that day.

Recall Legislation

Both the CEO and Mr. Wasylciw recommended consideration be given to recall legislation. British Columbia is the only Canadian jurisdiction with recall legislation, and since 1995, there has been only one petition with enough signatures to trigger a recall election. The MLA in question resigned prior to this happening. BC requires 40 percent of eligible voters in the electoral district to sign a recall petition. Alberta indicated it would introduce recall legislation, but it has not done so yet.

The committee notes that the purpose of recall legislation is not to overturn the results of an election because one candidate lost but to address concerns about an elected Member's conduct. The committee points to the new code of conduct, which empowers residents to raise concerns with the Integrity Commissioner if a Member is not seen as doing his or her job, has behaved in a way that does not uphold the integrity of their office, or if the Member is in a conflict of interest. The Integrity Commissioner has the power to investigate and to convene an inquiry under a sole adjudicator if the concern warrants it. A sole adjudicator can recommend that a Member be removed from office.

Due to the broad scope the Integrity Commissioner has to start an investigation, the committee feels this is a more prudent use of public funds to deal with a concern around a Member's conduct than a costly and time-consuming recall election and subsequent by-election.

The committee notes that information pertaining to the code of conduct must be provided to all candidates. While the CEO has recommended that her office should not be required to circulate this information, committee believes the CEO is the best person, as she is responsible for providing other documents to prospective candidates as part of the nomination process.

Open Data

The committee heard a submission from OpenNWT, a non-profit organization dedicated to the principles of open government in the Northwest Territories and making government-held data more accessible.

OpenNWT recommended that Elections NWT should follow the GNWT practice of advertising public procurements and disclose awarded contracts. Committee agrees that, as an agency funded by the Legislative Assembly, Elections NWT should follow the same procurement practices as the Assembly does. Contracts, what process was used to award those contracts, and the amounts for each contract should be disclosed in the Elections NWT annual report.

Recommendation 14

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that Elections NWT follow the same procurement practices as the Legislative Assembly and publicly disclose all contracts, the procurement process used for each contract, and the amount of each contract in the Elections NWT Annual Report.

OpenNWT also noted that the information included in the Elections NWT reports varies from election to election, both in style and content. Committee agrees that a consistent reporting format is required to better allow for analysis of election trends, including around the use of absentee ballots and the rate of return of those ballots. OpenNWT also argued that the act should be changed to require information about each poll and when a poll should be combined with another. Committee feels there needs to be more work done in this area and, therefore, makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation 15

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Chief Electoral Officer undertake a review of best practices on election reporting and return to the Legislative Assembly within six months with the findings of that review and any potential amendments to the Elections and Plebiscites Act.

OpenNWT also recommended that election information be posted in an open, machine-readable format. Committee agrees doing so would be beneficial.

Recommendation 16

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that Elections NWT post all election data that is included in its reports in a machine-readable format on the Elections NWT website.

Other Recommendations

Although not addressed in the CEO's report or raised in any submissions, committee discussed the possibility of security concerns surrounding the public disclosure of a Candidates residential address as required by the act. In many smaller communities, the residential address of Candidates may be common knowledge among residents; however, this may not be the case in larger centres. Further, the perceived security risk associated with the disclosure of one's residential address may be a disincentive for some towards putting their name forward for election.

Recommendation 17

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Chief Electoral Officer undertake a review of the requirements to publicly disclose a candidate's residential address and return to the Legislative Assembly within six months with the findings of that review and any potential amendments to the Elections and Plebiscites Act.

The CEO recommended that a returning officer should not be able to appoint "Additional Assistant Returning Officers" if they are a family member of the returning officer. Committee notes that the act does not define an "Additional Assistant Returning Officer." Under Section 24(2), an assistant returning officer is already excluded from being appointed by a related returning officer. To ensure there is no room for confusion the committee makes the following recommendation:

Recommendation 18

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that Section 24(4) of the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to specify that the act applies to additional assistant returning officers the same as it does to assistant returning officers, except for the limitations specified in Section 24(4).

The CEO also recommended excluding any relation of a candidate from serving as an assistant returning officer. While the committee supports ensuring the integrity of the electoral process, it also notes the CEO's admission that finding election workers in small communities is a challenge. Given the close-knit nature of our communities and that this concern appears to be hypothetical, committee does not support limiting the pool of potential election workers at this time.

The CEO recommended that official agents be included under Section 78(b) with the rationale that agents should be bound by the same restrictions as election officials, candidates, MLAs, and other governments. This section releases these people from following the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. As a result, the committee believes the list should not be expanded to include official agents.

As polling station accounts are captured in an electronic format, the CEO recommended that Section 205(e) be deleted. Committee notes that Section 205 does not refer to polling station accounts as paper or physical forms but requires the polling station account to be transmitted to the Chief Electoral Officer in the manner that he or she may direct. After seeking a legal opinion from the Law Clerk, committee is of the view that deleting Section 205(e) would have the effect of removing the requirement to submit the poll station account to the CEO in a return; as such, committee recommends that Section 205(e) should not be deleted.

OpenNWT recommended lowering the campaign spending limit to $20,000, with a $10,000 travel amount for those ridings with multiple communities. Committee notes that no campaign in the 2019 election spent the existing $30,000 limit. Most winning campaigns spent well under $20,000. Committee is concerned that in some ridings, travel costs could exceed $10,000, and feels the existing limit allows for more flexibility for candidates.

OpenNWT also recommended looking into changing the voting system from the current "first past the post" to "ranked voting," where electors would rank the candidates instead of choosing one. Committee feels that such a change would require extensive public consultation and is not prepared to make a recommendation.

Mr. Wasylciw recommended that Elections NWT be mandated to study the impact of expanded voting opportunities on election campaigns and to run sessions for potential candidates or official agents to provide information on the campaign process and the requirements under the act. The committee notes the video materials produced in advance of the last election to inform official agents and candidates of their role and encourages Elections NWT to continue this work. The committee does not wish to place Elections NWT in a position where their independence could be questioned by having Elections NWT responsible for researching impacts on political campaigns or to be responsible for informing political candidates outside of materials already required under the act.

The committee found certain recommendations from the CEO went beyond the administration of the election and touched on political considerations. The committee feels that the independence of the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer requires that the office not only act in a non-partisan, apolitical manner, but also be seen as such. If Elections NWT receives political complaints about candidates, committee advises that the appropriate response from that office is to redirect the complainants to the Members of the Legislative Assembly or the Integrity Commissioner, as appropriate.

Housekeeping

The CEO has recommended a few amendments to the Elections and Plebiscites Act dealing with typos or out-of-date provisions. One was fixed as part of the Miscellaneous Statute Law Amendment Act 2020. During the committee's review of the act, two more errors were found. As such, committee recommends that the act be amended to:

  • Amend Section 119(4) to remove a reference to the now deleted provision Section 195(3)(a)
  • Amend Section 142(2) to remove requirement of a paper copy of the list of electors for a polling division being placed in the ballot box, it need only be provided to the deputy returning officer.
  • Amend Section 195(5) to remove a reference to an envelope containing the polling station account
  • Amend Section 309(2) to reference Section 121(b), which deals with the sale of liquor, and not Section 129(b).

Recommendation 19

The Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures recommends that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be amended to fix references to other clauses and to reflect current electronic management of the list of electors and the polling station account.

The CEO has also recommended that the Elections and Plebiscites Act be repealed and replaced, and if that is not achievable, then it should have a statutory review every seven years.

Committee notes that the act is reviewed as a matter of course after every election and that it has been amended 11 times in the last 10 years, largely in response to recommendations stemming from the CEO reports on election administration and the public hearings from committee's review of that report. It is committee's view that replacing the act or imposing a statutory review is not required.

Mr. Wasylciw recommended that changes to the Elections and Plebiscites Act be subject to the same consultation and public review as other legislation. The committee notes that public input is taken as part of committee's review of the CEO report, and the committee makes its recommendations following that review. This report addresses all the recommendations committee received, along with reasons as to why a recommendation is being made or rejected.

Conclusion

The committee wishes to thank the CEO, Dr. Essex, Dr. Goodman, MLA Green, OpenNWT, and Mr. Wasylciw for making submissions that informed committee's review and the recommendations made in this report. This concludes the committee's review of the Chief Electoral Officer's Report on the Administration of the 2019 Territorial General Election.

Committee Report 9-19(2): Report on the Chief Electoral Officer's Report on the Administration of the 2019 Territorial General Election
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 2026

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Member for Frame Lake.

Motion to Receive Committee Report 9-19(2) and Move into Committee of the Whole, Carried
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nahendeh, that Committee Report 9-19(2), Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures Report on the Chief Electoral Officer's Report on the Administration of the 2019 Territorial General Election, be received and moved into Committee of the Whole for further consideration. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Motion to Receive Committee Report 9-19(2) and Move into Committee of the Whole, Carried
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 2026

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you. The motion is in order and is nondebatable. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

The report will be moved into Committee of the Whole. Thank you. Reports of standing and special committees. Item 7, returns to oral questions. Item 8, acknowledgements. Item 9, oral questions. Member for Thebacha.

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

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Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Justice recently completed a corrections service workplace assessment. Can the Minister explain how he is going to address the toxic and unhealthy workplace in the corrections system as described in this report, to ensure that our government will help to rehabilitate our incarcerated Indigenous people so that they can take charge and make changes in their lives? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Minister of Justice.

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Members are aware from the numerous times that I have addressed this in this House, this is a project that I am keeping a close eye on because it is so vital to the hundreds of staff in the corrections system as well as the inmates and their families and their futures.

One of the things that came out of the assessment was the creation of a working group with senior management from the Department of Justice, the human resources people from Finance, as well as the UNW. A working group at this level has never been assembled before. The union has never had that type of input into these changes before. This is something that is different than the past, and it's something that I think is really going to give some force to the changes that we hope to implement.

Together, that working group is developing an accountability framework, something that they can be held accountable to, that everyone can be held accountable to, and will really guide the work going forward. After the initial report, there was engagement between the staff and senior managers. There was going to be initial engagement based on what was previously heard so that we could focus on developing solutions. These are solutions that are not just from the top handed down. These are solutions coming from the ground up in collaboration with management.

Another of the changes is that there is going to be a review of operational schedules, including the movement of inmates, which is to address safety concerns that have been brought forward. There is going to be a new software system to coordinate training, recertification, all of those things. That was an issue. There is a renewed focus on retention and retainment. One of the big things is just enhancing the lines of communication, ensuring that management gets on the floor and that they talk to staff. That was one of the big takeaways, and one of the easiest things to remedy, just opening up those lines of communication. I have been following up with my department to ensure that these things are happening because, like I said before, I don't want this to be a report that just sits on a shelf. I want it to result in action. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

Page 2026

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Will the Minister consider reinstating some of the programs that previously helped inmates rehabilitate back into society? Can inmates once again do activities such as cutting grass, shovelling snow, or work regular jobs during their stay, or attend Aurora College to advance their education?

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Immediately following the beginning of the pandemic, all of those types of programs stopped. However, in July of 2020, they were reinitiated. That work has been going on in certain places. However, I note the Member is concerned that the work isn't happening in her community. Some of the things that need to be considered are basically public safety. There are always assessments of offenders. It depends on who is at the facility at that time. This is something that I am following up with further with my department because I know that it has been raised a number of times. I am looking into this specifically, but on the whole, those activities can occur.

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

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Frieda Martselos Thebacha

The workplace assessment report validated all of the concerns of staff within NWT corrections. Until this is corrected in a professional, orderly way, would the Minister agree that no rehabilitation of our incarcerated people will properly take place?

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

I have to disagree with that. I think that, despite the concerns raised by staff, they still have the ability to perform their jobs and help inmates with rehabilitation. I understand that a healthy workplace where people want to be is always conductive to a better job, and so we are working to make that happen.

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Thebacha.

Question 568-19(2): Inmate Rehabilitation
Oral Questions

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Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, would the Minister ensure that all of the concerns our Indigenous staff brought forward in the workplace assessment are addressed and that our Indigenous staff are heard? Positive solutions must address these staff issues to ensure rehabilitation of our incarcerated people will properly take place. Does the Minister agree with that statement? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.