This is page numbers 1779 - 1798 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 housing.

Topics

Home Insurance
Members' Statements

Page 1780

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Women in Trades
Members' Statements

February 5th, 2021

Page 1780

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On Wednesday, the Minister of ECE advised that the department is producing a media campaign to promote women in trades. However, Mr. Speaker, a picture of a woman holding a pencil did not inspire my mother to become an architect any more than a photo of a woman in a hardhat inspired my colleague to become an engineer. Pictures of women holding hammers do not create tradespeople. Mr. Speaker, if we want our children to become tradespeople, we need to foster their curiosity, value trades education, and support employers and students. To foster curiosity, ECE has already developed a great tool, Take Your Kid to Work Day. However, the existing program has become stagnant. This past year, students either set up their own opportunities or they went to school. To revitalize the program, ECE needs to reach out to employers who have been and would continue to be involved and pair students with the right placement.

I also see great potential for summer camps through Aurora College, where students can get their hands dirty and see their own potential. As a northern high school student, I took religion, which helped establish and articulate a moral compass and is something I use every day here, but I was expected to have more credits from religion than from CTS. This sends the wrong message about the value of trades education. Trades is not a second-rate career option for those who do not excel academically. Mr. Speaker, the apprenticeship wage subsidy is too low and needs to be increased. ECE currently has a wage subsidy for employers set at over $13, but the hourly wage subsidy for apprentices is $8.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we need to start universal childcare somewhere, so why not start with our Aurora College students. According to Childcare Canada, 16 percent of community college students are single parents and 75 percent of single parents are women. Numerous studies have shown that a lack of affordable and accessible childcare is keeping women with young children out of the workforce. According to Finance Minister Bill Morneau's economic advisory council, if women's participation in the workforce was increased to that of men, it would generate an extra $13 billion to Canada's GDP. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to discussing these ideas with the Minister later today.

Women in Trades
Members' Statements

Page 1781

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Priorities for Paulatuk
Members' Statements

Page 1781

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring Paulatuk's priorities for today. For housing, there is a shortage of housing for our local population. People are living in overcrowded conditions, which makes COVID-19 a higher risk for the community. Also, the conditions in units people are living in are poor. People's homes are poorly insulated and cold. It drives up the cost of heating fuel and is dangerous when cold weather hits. We need emergency housing in Paulatuk. The hamlet and local authority, the housing authority, we are waiting to hear back on what is going on with our emergency shelter which was promised to us last year.

Also, for health, the lack of eye and dental clinics due to COVID pandemic could last a long time. The GNWT needs to come forward with a plan to bring dental and eye services into the communities, Mr. Speaker. When we get professionals coming into the community, they do not stay long, especially doctors. They come in on a Wednesday and leave Friday, so it's not long enough. They should be staying in a community for a week to see all patients, which would save our government a lot of money for flying them out. Due to high demand, it's very difficult to book appointments with doctors. They should stay the full week, like I said.

For MACA, the municipal funding gap affects the community of Paulatuk and all of my riding. There is a lack of forced growth for operational maintenance funding. We received a new water treatment plant last year but with no increase for the O and M. Likewise, for our operational funding for the hamlet, the SAO in Paulatuk has been there since 2017 and has not seen a funding increase in that community since he has been there.

Education, there is a lack of staff housing. Non-resident teachers are having to share housing, and it's becoming more difficult to attract qualified applicants. Can ECE and Housing Corporation see what the federal housing funding could do to fix these long-standing problems?

Alternative energy, the hamlet installed solar panels to generate power to the limit allowed by NTPC. They are interested in installing more. They also want to explore wind generation to move off of the diesel-generated power. NTPC constraints limit the use of alternative power sources.

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the needs for all my communities are the same and always a last priority. Small communities, it seems to me, are one of the last priorities to this government. Could we start helping us in taking all these same problems for the past few years? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Priorities for Paulatuk
Members' Statements

Page 1781

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Access to Counselling Services
Members' Statements

Page 1781

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is becoming extremely difficult for Health Canada counsellors who are contracted to provide counselling services to Northwest Territories residents impacted by the Indian Residential schools, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis, as well as day school clients, to carry out their work. They are self-employed contractors and work alone with no supports. These trauma therapists, employed under Health Canada's Indian Residential School Resolution Health Support Program, often travel into communities to see their clients, adding additional barriers to receiving help in the COVID era.

One of the main solutions to issues created by COVID has been to move things online or into the virtual realm. Trying to adapt to a virtual world and conduct therapy through telehealth is near impossible as there is no one in these designated communities to set up these sessions. Additionally, we know most people living outside Yellowknife do not have access to the Internet. When they do, it is extremely limited, given the high cost of data in the North. Internet speed and reliability in the NWT becomes a big issue when considering telehealth options. Those who do have cellphones are limited by the high costs of minutes and plans further creating barriers to accessing services.

Another barrier to receiving help is the lack of privacy in our communities. Many individuals are living in multi-generational homes or are in dangerous domestic situations and are afraid of being overheard by their abuser or abusers. We must ensure that privacy and safety issues are considered when trying to connect with people on a therapeutic level. We also need to work harder to gain trust in order to account for the trauma that colonization of Indigenous people has caused. Often, people in need will not contact health centres for fear they will be scrutinized for accessing services for mental health issues. Most prefer face-to-face interaction and are unlikely to leave a voicemail in a general mailbox asking for help.

Providing counselling services through telehealth also creates issues with documentation. We need to advocate and send people for trauma and drug and alcohol residential treatment, all of which requires documentation. Most individuals do not have means to send faxes and/or scan documents to initiate the application process. As trauma counsellors are deemed an essential service under the COVID emergency orders, they are asking that the Minister of Health please consider, for the safety and benefit of people and their communities, to prioritize COVID vaccinations for those therapists and all essential workers who work across the territory. These people work intimately with our northern population in an effort to provide essential services and protect northern residents while providing essential mental health support throughout this pandemic that is escalating the demand for their services. Thank you.

Access to Counselling Services
Members' Statements

Page 1781

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Hay River North.

60th Anniversary of Julia and Max Trennert
Members' Statements

Page 1781

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to recognize and congratulate Max and Julia Trennert, who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary today. Max and Julia first met 61 years ago in Inuvik. He was working as a surveyor and also managing the Mackenzie Hotel. She was a student at the time. They say it was love at first sight.

Max and Julia were married on February 5, 1960, in Inuvik. That's also where their first three children were born. From Inuvik, they moved to Fort Simpson, where their fourth child, Brendalynn, who most of us know, was born. Max and Julia then relocated close to Kakisa, where they owned and operated a gas station in K'agee. Max and Julia eventually moved to Hay River, where they retired and have lived for the past 15 years, and we're thrilled to have them.

Mr. Speaker, it's important to note that Max is one of the original wildlife officers in the NWT. He covered off the area of Nahendeh, Deh Cho, and the South Slave. Julia was a full-time, stay-at-home mom and raised a family she is proud of. She is also well-known for her artistry when it comes to tuftings, and I have her work hanging in my office.

Max and Julia now have four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. They are still very much in love with each other and they cherish their family very much. I wish them all the best on this special day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

60th Anniversary of Julia and Max Trennert
Members' Statements

Page 1781

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River North. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Members' Statements

Page 1781

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad to see that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People was a priority for this Assembly and was at the heart of many of our Premier's mandate letters to Ministers. I am thankful that direction went in to those Ministers. However, those words seem to have a disconnect with actual changes within the over 5,000 civil servants on the ground. Our mandate committed that, by summer 2020, a terms of reference would be developed, as well as a working group with Indigenous governments to create an implementation plan for the United Nations declaration. That work has not been completed. I have not seen a terms of reference, and I have not seen who is on such a working group. It is now winter 2021.

I am still confused about who is in charge of this work. I have yet to see any public announcement of what this mandate item actually means and what has been done to date. I have yet to see a piece of legislation that actually changes the system of laws we operate on and devolves powers to Indigenous governments. I don't think it is clear where we are going with this item, and I don't believe it is properly funded nor set out.

Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of work to properly implement the declaration. This was passed in 2007 by the General Assembly for the United Nations, and Canada, for over a decade, resisted implementing it. We in this House took the step of making it a priority because we see a different Canada and a different system of laws that truly gives Indigenous peoples their rights. I would like to see an education act that devolves education truly in the spirit of UNDRIP, to give Indigenous peoples control over the education authorities, their own curriculum, their own hiring processes. I would like to see a proper clause setting out free, prior, and informed consent. For decades, lawyers fought over what free, prior, and informed consent meant, and this is why we never implemented the declaration. I am still confused about what the GNWT's position is on that matter.

More needs to be done in this area. We need those terms of reference, we need that working group, and we need an implementation plan to see what those words actually meant in the mandate letter. I will have questions for the Premier. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Members' Statements

Page 1782

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Appreciation for COVID and Isolation Centres Staff
Members' Statements

Page 1782

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As people of aware, I had to travel south in November to deal with a personal family matter. It was a very difficult situation, but something I needed to do. With this in mind, I followed the process as set out by the CPHO. I submitted my self-isolation plan, and after a few conversations with staff over a few days, it was identified that I would have to stay at one of the isolation centres in Yellowknife.

As we got off the plane, we were ushered into the airport, lined up, and had the opportunity to meet with the COVID staff at the airport. They were very professional, answering questions people had. Once this was done, you were directed to pick up your luggage, then, if you were going to an isolation centre, to the transportation. The driver was very helpful at the time and was following the CPHO orders. Upon arriving at the hotel, I was directed to the front desk and then to the Yellowknife isolation centre office. I was impressed with the job the staff did, signing me in and providing me with clear directions of what we could and could not do during the stay.

During my stay at the centre, I witnessed the same message repeated to every person who signed in. I was very impressed with the way staff were able to provide this information consistently and in such a positive way. I would like to also share some of the things I witnessed. The manager of the self-isolation centre has reached out to the Department of Health and Social Services dietician to review the hotel's menu and improve it for the people. If people had dietary needs or requests, they just needed to reach out to the office and bring it forth. These requests were forwarded to the kitchen staff, and it was implemented throughout their stay.

Some of the other things I got to see was the helpfulness of the staff. One individual was looking for a carry-on bag, and the staff person brought an underarm bag and brought it to this individual. It was brand new, Mr. Speaker, and when the person asked what the cost was, it was said, "Nothing." I watched and witnessed people ask for medication and supplies to be delivered to them during their stay at the isolation centre, and it was met in a very positive nature; they just did it without any regard to their time. They would do it during off hours, just to help the residents.

Mr. Speaker, we sometimes hear the bad things, but I would like again to thank the staff, the frontline staff of the COVID Secretariat and CPHO's office that did this great job. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Appreciation for COVID and Isolation Centres Staff
Members' Statements

Page 1782

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Item 6, replies to budget address, day 2 of 7. Item 7, acknowledgements. Item 8, oral questions. Member for Thebacha.

Question 502-19(2): Seniors Housing
Oral Questions

Page 1782

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister tell us if she considers the current policy of core needs income thresholds within the NWT Housing Corporation as a fair and just policy for the residents of the NWT? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 502-19(2): Seniors Housing
Oral Questions

Page 1782

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Minister responsible for Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.