This is page numbers 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 know.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. C. Cochrane, Mr. Edjericon, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Ms. Weyallon-Armstrong.

The House met at 1:35 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Lands.

Minister's Statement 255-19(2): Enhancing Transparency and Client Experience
Ministers' Statements

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide an update on the Department of Lands' progress related to enhancing transparency and client experience for residents of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Lands is an active member in the Government of the Northwest Territories Open Data Initiative, which aims to increase government transparency and accountability by proactively making data available to the public, while respecting our privacy, security, and legal obligations.

In support of this initiative, the Department recently expanded the information and data related to land administration that is available to the public on our web-based mapping tool. As of March 7th, 2022, additional non-personal information on disposition term length, effective date, and specific land-use type was published on the Administration of the Territorial Land Acts System, commonly referred to as ATLAS. This enhanced information will help viewers better understand the activities and uses of public land.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT's evaluation policy states that the government will implement program evaluation practices to ensure program performance is measurable and informs sound resource allocation decisions.

In support of this policy, the department has established a performance and evaluation committee to enhance our performance measures process with the goal of improving departmental performance.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to share that the department has developed and evaluated draft client service standards in response to feedback from our clients and stakeholders. The standards were initially developed, and the department piloted them prior to moving forward. The standards are being finalized before being posted to the department's website, which is anticipated later this month.

Client service standards are designed to increase transparency, predictability, and public understanding of both; the steps required to complete land transactions and the timelines for services. The timelines are an important inclusion as they provide clients with a commitment for engagement with the department.

The department plans to regularly review and improve our client service standard with intent to provide more information online and in-person for the clients.

The department will also track progress through performance measures reporting in our annual business plan.

Mr. Speaker, enhancing transparency and client experience is a process. The department is committed to improve services for the residents of the Northwest Territories and will continue to conduct business in a transparent and accountable manner. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 255-19(2): Enhancing Transparency and Client Experience
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 256-19(2): Senior Citizens Month and Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Ministers' Statements

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mr. Speaker, June is Senior Citizens Month, a time for us to acknowledge and celebrate the important role seniors have in our families and communities.

Seniors teach us about culture, tradition, and history. Their wisdom is integral to making wise decisions that will impact the future of generations of Northerners.

This Legislative Assembly has made a commitment to enable seniors to age in place, with dignity. The Department of Health and Social Services is working with Housing NWT and the Departments of Municipal and Community Affairs, along with Education, Culture and Employment, to ensure that seniors may live longer and healthier lives wherever they live now.

Mr. Speaker, these departments are working together to increase supports for seniors to make it easier for them to stay in their home community and in their own home if that's their choice. Funding is being provided to enhance inclusion and safety and remove community-level barriers to aging in place, along with initiatives to protect seniors from abuse.

Mr. Speaker, senior abuse and neglect are very serious concerns for this government. One of the challenges we face is the underreporting of abuse, making it difficult to get a complete picture of the problem. This issue is not unique to the North, or even to Canada.

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. It is an official United Nations International Day acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue around the world. Ministers Responsible for Seniors across Canada recognize the seriousness of this issue and collaborate at the federal, provincial, and territorial table to discuss it.

Mr. Speaker, a cross-jurisdictional work plan includes projects that identify gaps, challenges, as well as policy and program options to address financial and non-financial abuse of seniors. The GNWT is actively participating in this work and will implement the regulatory and service delivery changes required to protect seniors.

We are also working with our partners to launch a public awareness campaign focused on senior abuse, and to provide training to GNWT staff that teaches them how to identify signs of abuse.

The GNWT works closely with the NWT Seniors Society to support organizations, communities, families, and individuals confronted with senior abuse. They operate a 1-800 phone line to offer information, referrals, and support to seniors and their families. Questions about senior abuse account for about 20 percent of all the calls they received in the last fiscal year, so this is an important issue in NWT communities.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT Seniors Society also delivers the Creating Safe Communities for Older Adults workshop to communities that want to increase awareness of abuse of older adults, learn how to identify the abuse, and take action.

Individuals experiencing abuse can reach out to the RCMP, call Alison McAteer House toll free, contact the five family violence shelters, or connect with a health and social service provider in their community for support to discuss next steps they can take to protect themselves.

Mental health supports such as community counsellors, the NWT Help Line, as well as various online resources are available to those who are affected by senior abuse, Mr. Speaker. I encourage anyone who wants to know more to reach out to the NWT Seniors Society or visit their website.

Enabling seniors to age in place requires an effort at the territorial level, at the community level, and within NWT families. Over the next few months, NWT residents, Indigenous and community governments, and stakeholder organizations, will have the opportunity to participate in community-based in-person and virtual engagement sessions, as well to complete an online survey to inform the work the GNWT is doing to enable more seniors to age in place no matter where they live in the Northwest Territories. And that survey is available at health centres and from the NWT Seniors Society in paper form.

Mr. Speaker, throughout the month of June, I encourage you to take a moment to honour the seniors in your life and in your community and remember that all seniors have the right to choose their own lifestyle, express themselves in their own language, and enjoy the same privileges granted to all residents of the NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 256-19(2): Senior Citizens Month and Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Housing NWT.

Minister's Statement 257-19(2): Housing Northwest Territories Memorandum of Understanding with Tlicho Government
Ministers' Statements

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, since becoming the Minister responsible for Housing NWT, I have repeatedly spoken on the theme of partnership. This is because the Northwest Territories is in a housing crisis that cannot be solved by any one government alone.

Mr. Speaker, it is crucial that Housing NWT works with Indigenous governments to increase affordable housing for residents, providing training opportunities, and supports the housing goals of Indigenous governments and communities while maximizing local economic activity.

Last fall, as part of our renewal strategy, Housing NWT committed to strengthening its partnerships with the Indigenous governments of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that Housing NWT is making progress on that. Housing NWT has recently signed a memorandum of understanding on housing with the Tlicho government. This provides a framework for intergovernmental cooperation on housing-related matters, including discussions on coordinated program delivery in the Tlicho communities. Working with the existing intergovernmental memorandum of understanding with the Tlicho government, this memorandum of understanding on housing demonstrates Housing Northwest Territories' commitment to strengthening this important relationship and to ensure that our cooperation will endure far into the future.

Mr. Speaker, stronger cooperation between the two governments has the potential to positively impact the day-to-day lives of the Tlicho citizens and the public, and to help us focus and maximize our collective efforts on housing.

Despite the promise of progress in the memorandum of understanding, there is still much more work to be done. Guided by the MOU, Housing NWT will work with the Tlicho government on providing effective housing supports for people most in need.

Mr. Speaker, while we may not always be able to agree, I want to express with this relationship, based on trust, recognition, and mutual respect, we will overcome any challenges. We will be better, we will do better to maximize our collective efforts for people we serve. I look forward to jointly working together and continuing to make this progress on matters of importance to both the GNWT and the Tlicho government.

In closing Mr. Speaker, mahsi to the Tlicho government for working with us to set a new model for housing success in the Northwest Territories. I also want to thank the staff of Housing NWT for making this a priority and putting their efforts forward. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 257-19(2): Housing Northwest Territories Memorandum of Understanding with Tlicho Government
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Member's Statement 1129-19(2): Logical Decision Making
Members' Statements

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my statement today is a little bit different. To begin my statement today, I want to share a quote from Ghandi when he described our modern western society as one of wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without mortality, size without sacrifice, and politics without principle.

Mr. Speaker, for my Member's statement today, I want to talk about logical decision-making and logical thinking.

One of the biggest things that I have noticed since becoming an MLA is that every single decision that government makes needs to be backed up by frameworks, action plans, studies, and strategies. It is very clear to me that public government is nearly incapable of making seemingly easy decisions on about anything. There is much talk about doing things in the future because of the need to wait for further studies. However, that provides for a lack of action for long periods of time when logical decisions about things that have been studied to death can be put into action. This way of doing things wastes valuable time, money, and resources that can be put to better use and actually gets things done in a timely matter.

Mr. Speaker, this way of doing things would never be acceptable when running a business as the business would likely fall into deep deficit, eventually go bankrupt, and never be able to accomplish any of its core mandate actions. For private enterprise, as the saying goes, time is money, so logical decisions and logical thinking about known and established facts on various matters usually prevails. However, that same principle does not apply to public government as government bureaucrats are always trying to cover decisions that should be made with good leadership in a timely effective manner to make a difference for the people of the Northwest Territories. I seek unanimous consent to complete my statement, Mr. Speaker.

---Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, as the MLA for Thebacha, I am stressing that decisions should come from the heart. It should come from your knowledge of the subject. You should be passionate about the subject. And it should also accomplish positive changes. As leaders, we should also make sure that we are not making decisions that are not detrimental to the people of the Northwest Territories.

We need to learn to think outside of the box for the betterment of the people of the Northwest Territories. We must show strength and be proud of our decisions.

Many times I feel there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians. The waters get muddy, and the whole idea of why we are here is sometimes being questioned by the people of the Northwest Territories.

So colleagues, think before you leap; think before you speak; think before you action; to make it easier for the people of the Northwest Territories to understand what we are doing here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1129-19(2): Logical Decision Making
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1130-19(2): RCMP Violence and Brutality towards Indigenous Women
Members' Statements

Jane Weyallon-Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I am following up on my statement from last week on overpolicing and police brutality.

Since my last statement, several constituents have reached out to share their fears of the RCMP. Mr. Speaker, we should all be deeply troubled by this.

Mr. Speaker, Indigenous people face violence every day. This violence is rooted in colonization, residential school, the 60 Scoops, the Indian Act, and other racist policies aimed at assimilating Indigenous people.

Mr. Speaker, historically the RCMP was complicit in this violence. For example, many RCMP were involved in separating Indigenous children and youth from their families to attend residential schools. The policing of Indigenous children and youth began at a very young age. This is one reason why there is mistrust and fear of the RCMP.

Mr. Speaker, Indigenous women in the Northwest Territories and Canada face extraordinary rates of violence. In 2021, Statistics Canada revealed that six in ten Indigenous women report being physically or sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

These acts of violence are not separate from the colonial legacy of Canada. In fact, the colonial acts and policies I listed diminish Indigenous women. This has made them more susceptible to violence including violence from the RCMP. The RCMP's rough handling, harsh treatment, racist remarks, indifference, and cruelty towards Indigenous women is systemic discrimination and violence against Indigenous women. This is unacceptable.

For example, when charges are stayed against RCMP for police brutality, what message does this send to the Indigenous people, especially the Indigenous women? Mr. Speaker, can I have unanimous consent to conclude.

---Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, in 2019, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls final report was released with Calls to Justice. From that report, calls for police services, 9.1, reads, "Acknowledge that the historical and current relationship between Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people in the justice system has been largely defined by colonialism, racism, bias, discrimination, and fundamental cultural and societal difference. Acknowledge that going forward this relationship must be based on respect and understanding and must be led by and in partnership with Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people."

Mr. Speaker, Indigenous people across the territory are ready for a healthy and positive relationship with the RCMP based on respect. Reconciliation with, and the safety of, Indigenous people requires we implement the MMIWG for justice.

I will have questions for the Minister of Justice. Thank you.

Member's Statement 1130-19(2): RCMP Violence and Brutality towards Indigenous Women
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Member's Statement 1131-19(2): Graduation Rates
Members' Statements

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the East Three Secondary graduates who will be having their ceremony on Saturday, June 4th, in Inuvik. I would also like to congratulate the post-secondary students that will be having their convocation on June 17th at the Inuvik campus. As well as all those students that have completed their post-secondary this year with all the challenges that they have had to do to complete their studies throughout the pandemic.

Mr. Speaker, graduating in the Northwest Territories is a great achievement for those who are able to do so.

According to statistics, from ECE's grad rate fact sheet stats in 2018, show that the NWT graduation rate is 61.3 percent. And when it is broken down by regional centres, small communities, and Yellowknife, the stats are as follows: regional centres are at the highest with 83.1 percent; small communities at 33.1 percent; Yellowknife at 71.4 percent.

When we dive deeper into who is graduating and break it down even further between Indigenous and non-Indigenous, the stats are no surprise to most of us sitting in this room.

In 2018, only 48.3 percent of the Indigenous students graduated compared to 77.9 of the non-Indigenous students, Mr. Speaker. This saddens me. Do you know why this saddens me, Mr. Speaker? It's because there are so many systemic barriers and challenges that Indigenous students face, especially in the smaller communities, as my colleagues from the small communities continue to remind us all, that prevents them from achieving graduation, like poverty, lack of food, lack of shelter, addictions that some of these family are challenged with. Attending school and getting to school is much lower on their priority.

Mr. Speaker, we talk about a representative workforce in the North, and I do as well, but we need to really fix the root causes as to why we don't have a representative workforce in the North. And that is why I stand in this House, as long as I am as an MLA, to raise the issues of these root causes, to get the attention they need for a better future for all of our residents, especially our Indigenous residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1131-19(2): Graduation Rates
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.