This is page numbers 2163 - 2198 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 services.

Topics

Internet Access for Learning
Members' Statements

Page 2164

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to talk about adequate and affordable access to Internet services and the barriers facing students and families, especially our post-secondary distance learners.

First, on the elementary and secondary school side, in a recent Yellowknife school board meeting, it was revealed that the Internet connectivity volume shared by the three boards and Aurora College is grossly inadequate, especially given distance learning requirements imposed by the COVID pandemic. Astonishing as it sounds, YCS, YK1, Aurora College, and CSFTNO share an Internet connection of 300 megabytes per second provided by the GNWT. Just for context, that's about equivalent to your cable modem at home. This is for four entire school organizations. This is a totally inadequate allotment, considering that there are 1700 users in YCS alone, and this usage is not streaming content or videos, just for day-to-day operations.

Even without the increased distance demands of COVID-19, providing students adequate opportunity to learn and use technology is an essential part of modern education. Failure to provide needed technical infrastructure puts our students at a disadvantage compared to learners in other jurisdictions and even within communities here. Inadequate connectivity was rated in a recent teacher survey conducted by YCS as the number one problem affecting performance and wellness. The school board also noted that routine service calls to GNWT's Technology Service Centre were not resolved in a timely manner, which adds to frustration with teachers and students. Accessibility and affordability present further problems for distance education. Even though so-called unlimited bandwidth is coming to northern communities, the $100-plus cost of adequate home plans creates a digital divide in communities, including Yellowknife.

Likewise, students of post-secondary distance programs face increasing Internet charges that can be crippling. Although there is now a technology support grant as part of Student Financial Assistance, it is not adequate to allow for the access that students require. I will have questions for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment on putting our students on adequate and affordable technical footing. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Internet Access for Learning
Members' Statements

Page 2165

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Medical Nursing Staff Response to Community Emergencies
Members' Statements

Page 2165

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. I want to talk about a serious procedural loophole within the Department of Health and Social Services that I believe is endangering many Northerners in our small communities. That, Mr. Speaker, is that many medical nursing staff in our communities are prohibited from responding to emergency medical calls. This is a serious concern.

Mr. Speaker, this procedural gap ultimately showed its shortfalls in the last year alone in my riding. In June of 2020, we lost an elder in Deninu Kue who was in medical distress, and the local nursing staff were bound by policy or procedure and were not able to respond. The elder in question was less than a few hundred metres from the local health centre. More recently, Mr. Speaker, we lost another resident who could very well have been still with us if there was a swift response to attend to their emergency. Again, there was valuable time lost because of response and transportation of a patient to the health centre.

Mr. Speaker, there is a glaring gap within the Department of Health and Social Services. If you were in a small community and called 911 right now for a medical emergency, you would need to be transported by a friend or RCMP, for example, to get the medical attention you would need. That's a problem. I do understand the need to protect our local medical staff to prevent them from being put into compromising situations. However, I strongly feel that Health and Social Services needs to step up their game and work with our communities to help prepare them in what to do in the event of an emergency.

COVID, I understand, has impacted many of our government initiatives, but we still need to do our very best to ensure that our residents get the best service and attention they can get. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services at the appropriate time. Marsi cho.

Medical Nursing Staff Response to Community Emergencies
Members' Statements

Page 2165

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Fort Smith Church Community
Members' Statements

Page 2165

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I would like to use my Member's statement to thank and acknowledge the church community in Fort Smith. Mr. Speaker, there are three churches in my community: the Anglican, the Catholic, and the Pentecostal. The church community in Fort Smith has become a core constituency of the town itself. The church community contributes to the entirety of the community of Fort Smith. They want Fort Smith to thrive and do well, along with the rest of the NWT. The church community contributes to local events, and they share their building space with other organizations or groups when needed, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or other recovery programs.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the church community for all the work they do to help support and contribute to our community as a whole. I hold this community very close to my heart. It's important to remember that all members of any churches, or any other spiritual or religious sects, are also members of our community, too. They are our neighbours, our friends, our co-workers, and the like. For these reasons, I thank the church community for their dedication, hard work, and the spiritual aspects of serving the amazing community of Fort Smith. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Fort Smith Church Community
Members' Statements

Page 2165

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Lowering Legal Voting Age
Members' Statements

Page 2165

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. For those of you in this House who grow tired of hearing from me all of the time, I would like to try something different today and read an essay by Raven Mudford, a student at Ecole Sir John Franklin, who has been advocating to lower the voting age.

"Teenagers deserve the right to vote. They deserve the opportunity to have a say in how they enter the world of adulthood. Why, in the context of voting, do we see them as children, but in others 'young adults'? We trust them to enter the workforce, drive cars, take care of children, protest, but not influence their futures?

"Many 16-year-olds have jobs, and as a result, pay taxes. That alone is a valid argument: no taxation without representation.

"There is a perception of apathy among teenagers, lowering the voting age would fix this. If teenagers really are prone to rebel around the age of 16, we'd see them research against their parents' points of view and lead to them making decisions of their own.

"Social media gives teenagers an early exposure to these topics, both to extremists, to people who oppose their viewpoints, those with unique experiences, and those whose ideologies align with their own. Teenagers often engage in online debates about politics. Teenagers are willing to do the research if they know it makes a difference.

"Young adults, teenagers, adolescents, no matter what you call them, deserve the right to vote. At the age of 16, they start thinking about post-secondary options and a future which will be affected by whoever is elected. We are told that the youth are the future, but when it comes down to it, they are deprived of the capability to influence it. It is so important to teach youth about politics and to give them the opportunity to vote in elections. Their futures are at stake."

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Raven Mutford for writing that essay and for all of her political advocacy. I could not agree with her more. Places that have lowered the voting age increase voter turnout for life. In fact, parents of teenagers who are able to vote vote more themselves. Mr. Speaker, I think a great place for us to start is our own school board elections, which have oversight of many of our teenagers and have a very low turnout. I will have questions for the appropriate Minister. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lowering Legal Voting Age
Members' Statements

Page 2165

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Eulogy for Jana Panaktalok
Members' Statements

Page 2165

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I want to give my condolences for Jana Blow in her passing in Tuktoyaktuk last week. Speaking to her mom, Barbara Panaktalok, she is survived by Barbara; her brothers, Ellery, Ross, Darcy, and Dale; her sisters, Lennette, Tina, Amanda, and Eva; her two daughters, Dana and Bobby Joe; and her grandchildren, Ricky Lee, Nicky Anne Kikoak, Jared Adam Kupon, Jolena, Selena, Marie Mabel, Jace, Anne, Joe Dale, Josie, Amelia Lena, Haisley, and Joe Matthew. Jana leaves behind nine grandchildren. She is predeceased by her dad, Joe Blow, a well-respected elder, and her sister Veronica. Jana will be missed and not forgotten. Thoughts and prayers are with her and her family and the people of Tuktoyaktuk. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Eulogy for Jana Panaktalok
Members' Statements

Page 2165

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Our thoughts are with the family and the community, as well. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Birthday Wishes for Speaker
Members' Statements

February 26th, 2021

Page 2165

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is kind of just coming off from my chest here. Today is your very special day, and I greatly appreciate that you are here today with us to make sure we keep the Legislative Assembly running. I would like to ask our Members here to all get up and wish you a very happy birthday and maybe sing you the song. No singing? No singing, okay. No singing, but anyway, we wish you very much a very happy birthday, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Birthday Wishes for Speaker
Members' Statements

Page 2165

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Mahsi. Mahsi. I was going to allow it today, but... just kidding.

---Laughter

Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Item 6, acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Question 598-19(2): Contracts with Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2166

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The questions I have are for the Minister of Finance. Can the Minister confirm if her department is working with other departments to ensure northern businesses are provided preference and every opportunity to participate in projects this upcoming construction season? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 598-19(2): Contracts with Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2166

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister of Finance.

Question 598-19(2): Contracts with Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2166

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank, Mr. Speaker. For the upcoming season, all businesses will be subject to the existing processes that we have, which are meant to support northern businesses, including the BIP, the Business Incentive Policy, and all of the current procurement processes that exist. To the extent that we want to improve and change those processes, we did accelerate the procurement review. That is underway, and one of the very questions we are looking at is whether there are new, additional, different ways to better support those businesses. While, if there are improvements, they will not necessarily happen in time for this season, we do have some existing processes in place and are looking constantly to improve them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.