This is page numbers 2493 - 2524 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 care.

Topics

Northwest Territories Midwifery Services
Members' Statements

Page 2495

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The midwifery programs in Fort Smith and Hay River have been providing excellent care since their inception. Data from the University of British Columbia demonstrates that health outcomes for patients using midwifery services are equal to or better than the rest of the territory and even the country. NWT communities with midwifery services have lower pre-term birth rates than those without, and even clients who choose to leave their home communities for birth have lower C-section rates and long breastfeeding duration rates. These excellent health outcomes are directly tied to the culturally safe and relationship-based care of midwifery. Imagine the improvements our people and communities could see if we invested more in midwifery. We could bring down our high infant mortality rate. Half of the NWT's population is Indigenous, and as our own programs have demonstrated, midwifery clearly helps in addressing the large maternal and infant health disparities of Indigenous people.

Demand for midwifery services is high. Folks pay for their own travel to communities, especially throughout the Deh Cho. Even people from Yellowknife are seeking care from midwives in Hay River and Fort Smith. Midwifery investments will make access to these services, along with the better health outcomes they provide, more equitable for all people across the NWT. Our government has taken note of these facts and has committed to expand midwifery services. We spent a lot of time and money studying how to successfully expand midwifery services, both in 2012 and 2017. Based on these studies, along with strong public support, a plan was made and, in 2019, funds were provided for phase one of three for midwifery service expansion. After just one year of capacity-building, the funds to move to phase 2 were not delivered as planned. Our government is now stalling, saying we need to revisit the plan and business case.

Our midwifery program has demonstrated excellent outcomes despite being under-resourced, since they lack both adequate support from management and appropriate funding levels for staff. The midwifery services in Rankin Inlet recently closed because of these similar problems. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Northwest Territories Midwifery Services
Members' Statements

Page 2495

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

In closing, Mr. Speaker, now is not the time to falter. Our midwifery services are fragile and require financial investment to continue. Lots of time, money, and energy has been invested in consulting the public and planning. If we fail to invest in our midwifery programs now, we risk losing the ground we've worked so hard to gain over the years. I will have questions for the Minister of health later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Northwest Territories Midwifery Services
Members' Statements

Page 2495

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Caribou Emergency
Members' Statements

Page 2495

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to say it's a pretty hard act to follow the last couple of statements there. In August 2019, Cabinet finally approved the long-awaited Bathurst Caribou Range Plan. That plan calls for a variety of actions, including a cumulative land disturbance framework, community guardianship, habitat conservation, mobile caribou conservation measures, road planning and management, offsetting compensatory mechanisms, wildfire and fuels management, and online map staking.

It appears much of GNWT's efforts at trying to assist with the recovery of the Bathurst caribou herd have been focused on harvest management and predator control. Harvest management has been in place for years. I want to acknowledge and appreciate the Minister's and Indigenous leaders' recent work on the illegal harvesting. I can't say much about wolf control as it is still before the Wek'eezhii Renewable Resources Board, but the ground and aerial shooting program did not yield the expected results. I continue to ask about our efforts at habitat protection and get vague answers on future actions. We should not plan or build roads into the range of the Bathurst caribou herd unless there are some clear signs of recovery and action on habitat protection.

The year 2020 was a wash for the Bathurst caribou herd as the calving ground surveys were not carried out, predator control appears to have failed, and very little seems to have been accomplished with regard to habitat protection. I'll have questions for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources about whether this government is serious about recovery of the Bathurst caribou herd. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Caribou Emergency
Members' Statements

Page 2495

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Devolving Powers to Municipal Governments
Members' Statements

Page 2495

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Mr. Speaker, to be quite honest, I have more faith in our community governments than our own. I believe the structure of community governments allows them to be more nimble. I believe the services they provide their people every day on the ground are more important than much of the work we do in this House. Yet, Mr. Speaker, the GNWT continues to have a paternalistic relationship with its communities. This is no more apparent than with the relationship with our capital city.

Inevitably, Mr. Speaker, in every Yellowknife election, some city councillor decides to talk about a land value tax, a tax that would allow land to be assessed differently in incentivized development, or a vacancy tax to tax some of the long vacant lots in Yellowknife. Then, this conversation is quickly stifled because someone has to remind them that they don't have that power. The GNWT has not given it to them and likely will never will because I cannot get MACA to bring forward any legislation, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the city of Yellowknife has half the population. It has the capacity to take on many of these issues, and I believe they should. I would like the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs to engage discussions on a city charter with them. I would like to have conversations about devolving powers. I can't foresee a Legislative Assembly where there will ever be agreement on liquor, Mr. Speaker, yet I believe there is a path forward where we give communities control over what they want their liquor regulations to look forward. I believe we can devolve powers to solve some of the debates in this House we likely will never solve.

Mr. Speaker, recently, the City of Yellowknife passed a motion in support of granting permanent residents the right to vote. They don't have the power to do that. This House does. Another debate which I don't see a path forward to us actually giving the community what they want.

Mr. Speaker, city charters exist for capital cities all across the country. They create a sustainable financial arrangement, and often, it forces large cities to take the good times with the bad. If the GNWT revenues go down, city revenues go down. If the GNWT revenues go up, city revenues go up. We need to have a conversation about where the GNWT's mandate ends and where our communities' start because we have continually off-loaded powers without funding them, and I believe there are significant gaps that were brought forward during this pandemic. I will have questions for the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs about whether we can figure out where our mandates ends and our communities' begins. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Devolving Powers to Municipal Governments
Members' Statements

Page 2495

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Provision of Emergency Health Care Services in Communities
Members' Statements

Page 2496

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Over the course of this Assembly, we have heard a lot of conversation around the provision of healthcare services in our communities. There have been requests for community nurses to make house calls and for them to leave the health centres in emergency situations. The majority of Canadians have access to emergency medical services in their home, if needed. Why do our residents not deserve the same? Why is this critical component of safe emergency care missing in our communities?

We have heard several Ministers of Health and Social Services, time and time again, redirect questions of ambulance services to the Department of MACA. One department blaming the other, and the typical silo'd government approach continues on hampering progress. Meanwhile, years pass with no new services coming into existence, and people in communities die. Having a safety background and having been lucky and never injured in a community I was working in, I have a lot of questions about what happens during an emergency. Once a patient is at the health centre and needs to be medevaced out of the community, how does the patient travel from the health centre to the aircraft? How do critically ill patients get to a medevac flight? Is it in the back of a pick-up? On a four-wheeler? Or in a Ski-Doo? Isn't it our responsibility to get a patient safely from one centre to another for care?

All levels of paramedics are licensed in the rest of Canada, so why aren't paramedics professionally licensed in the NWT? It's my understanding that the Department of Health and Social Services has been working on legislation to regulate paramedic services in the NWT, going as far as the public consultation phase, but then cave to the pressure of a few local providers who didn't want to have to provide the same level of care as down south. This leads to inconsistent delivery of service across the territory as there are no standardized protocols or procedures for recordkeeping, drug administration, or risk management. This severely compromises patient safety and is not acceptable. How can we say we are protecting and serving people when we don't even have a definition of how we are going to do it or track any of the results? Why does the Department of HSS not go forward with a community-based paramedicine program we've seen in the Inuvik region, a model for a health-authority-based ambulance system that can actually make money rather than lose it? Why are we not looking to replicate this in other northern communities?

We have an obligation to keep our patients safe and that includes during transport for all of our residents, including those in our primarily Indigenous communities. Recently, Laney Beaulieu, a pre-med student from Fort Resolution took to social media to call out these lack of services for what they are, racism, and I agree. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Provision of Emergency Health Care Services in Communities
Members' Statements

Page 2496

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Item 6, acknowledgments. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Question 660-19(2): Northwest Territories Curriculum Development
Oral Questions

Page 2496

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The questions are for the Minister responsible for ECE. Mr. Speaker, with all the recent attention of potential changes to the NWT school curriculum in the media and news articles suggesting the NWT is dropping the Alberta curriculum, can the Minister please clarify if a decision has been made to move away from Alberta? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 660-19(2): Northwest Territories Curriculum Development
Oral Questions

Page 2496

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 660-19(2): Northwest Territories Curriculum Development
Oral Questions

Page 2496

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the Member for asking me this and giving me a chance to clarify. There has been a lot of chatter about this lately. For those of you who pay attention to what is said in this House, it's been almost one year to the day that I've been talking about renewing the curriculum in the Northwest Territories. This discussion has been ongoing.

After our report from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada saying that we need to do something with our education system, we started looking at every single aspect of what we do, and renewing our curriculum was one of those things that we wanted to look at. However, we have not made a decision. We are nowhere near making a decision. We are in the very early stages of seeing what is out there. Alberta is renewing its curriculum now. B.C. has a modern curriculum. The Yukon uses that curriculum. There are other curriculum developments across Canada, and it's incumbent upon us to ensure that whatever curriculum we use is right for the people of the Northwest Territories. As I said, Alberta is renewing their curriculum, so one way or another, we're getting a new curriculum. We need to do our due diligence, but we are a ways away from making any sort of decision. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 660-19(2): Northwest Territories Curriculum Development
Oral Questions

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Rocky Simpson Hay River South

I hope that comment about paying attention wasn't directed at me.

---Laughter

Question 660-19(2): Northwest Territories Curriculum Development
Oral Questions

Page 2496

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, I'll ask the Minister: why is ECE changing the NWT curriculum, and how are those changes made? Will there be opportunity for input from the public or the partners?

Question 660-19(2): Northwest Territories Curriculum Development
Oral Questions

Page 2496

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

As I stated, we are always looking at our curriculum, always looking at what is new. There're people in the department who, this is their job. They focus on curriculum. As I said, given the Office of the Auditor General results as well as our own results as well as the fact that we know we need to do better, we wanted to look and see if, perhaps, adjusting our curriculum is a way to do that. There're a lot of options. Looking forward, we could stay with Alberta's new curriculum. We could create a partnership with another jurisdiction. We could, perhaps, use K to eight of one jurisdiction and then use nine to twelve with Alberta. There're a lot of opportunities here. We just want to make sure that we are doing what's right for the students of the Northwest Territories. Ideally, we would be able to develop our own curriculum, but the fact is, it's too costly. It would be well beyond the reach of this territory. In other jurisdictions, their curriculum development shops are huge, and we just don't have that.