This is page numbers 6787 - 6868 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.

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Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 6792

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Nahendeh.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 6792

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I did promise that both fathers, I'm going to embarass our pages here, Zach Mandeville, your dad is very proud, and he was very excited to see you here.

Sula Ray, thank you very much for being here. Your dad said to bug you and I've been able to do that. So thank you for that.

Lee Mandeville, a respected ECC officer, and I thank him very much. As well as an entertainer and he did have cold fingers, he said, yesterday, but I didn't notice a beat -- a change in his music, so.

And as well from the Deh Cho, Mary Jane Cazon. Thank you very much for the work you've done as an interpreter. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 6792

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Kam Lake.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Kam Lake also has a very proud page in the House. We have Liyah Yakeleya-Grymalosi who I'd like to say a very huge thank you to. And I also a notice a couple pages around the House who I had the honour of photographing as tiny little babies, including both of the ones to your right and your left. So thank you very much for their service.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 6793

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Recognition of visitors in this the gallery. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

October 5th, 2023

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Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the Inuvialuktun interpreters, Valerie Steffanson and Lillian Elias. For the last four years, I'd pop in and listen to them speak in my language, Inuvialuktun, and it's been very helpful. Quyananni.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 6793

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Boot Lake. Recognition of visitors in the gallery.

If we've missed anyone in the gallery today, I hope you're enjoying our proceedings. It's always nice to have an audience. And welcome once again, Mr. Mandeville. Thank you for all your service. And Lee plays a mean fiddle, if you didn't know. Keep up the good work.

Also to our interpreters, over the last four years here, especially the last two years with steady interpretation into our Indigenous languages, you've all done a wonderful job. And it's amazing how you keep up to some of our Members. But I know we try to speak slower but, you know, with the time and all, but you're doing an amazing job. Keep up the good work and hopefully the next generation follows your footsteps and takes this on as well. Thank you once again.

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Acknowledgements. Oral questions. Member for Nunakput.

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

I appreciate that. Mr. Speaker, with the CERB payments and the disability payments across the territory, and especially into our riding of Nunakput, can the Minister explain to me why are we debt collecting for the federal government and we are -- these are programs that are impacted because residents have received this federal funding, but are we still debt collecting for CERB and disability payments across the territory? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to need a bit more detail on the Member's comments. I know he had a statement. He was throwing around some acronyms, throwing around a bunch of numbers. So I can say that the CERB program, that was exempted from the calculations for income assistance. So there were people who claimed that who are on income assistance, and I understand that the federal government has been clawing some of those payments back or requiring repayment of some of those payments if the individuals weren't eligible. The CRB program, which came after the CERB program, was not exempted and so that was counted against people's income assistance. And so if they did not claim that, then that would have been counted against their income assistance and recovered. I can't speak to some of the other issues that the Member is mentioning. But as far as I know, we don't do debt collection on behalf of the federal government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Acronyms or not, we're clawing back funding that should be going to the residents that are -- that these different programs that we're supposed to provide. CERB payments, yeah, okay. The second, is this round two for the territorial government? It's disability payments that they're being clawed back on. And I've been told by individuals in my riding that they're being clawed back so they're being penalized. So why do CERB one, or the first part of CERB for the -- to no claw backs and then number two they're clawing back when we approved in the House that they weren't going to do this. They told us that, so why are they doing that? Thank you.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm not quite clear what the Member is referencing, what he means by disability payments. I'm going to need a bit more detail on this. I know that the folks who administer income assistance, they are as compassionate as they can be. We do have regulations. And so they must -- the program is regulated and so they must follow those regulations. It is the law. And so while they are compassionate as they can be, there are some parameters that they have to follow. So I'm happy to look into this further. And if the Member can provide a bit more concrete information about what he's referencing and perhaps even some constituent names, we can actually dig into their individual files and ensure that everything is happening the way it is supposed to be. We don't want people to, you know -- to not have what they need to get by. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So I will get the Minister those names in regards to the family, single mother of five children is being deducted $41,000 and not getting income support and being penalized by our government when they should be providing service. I think that we have to try to keep the, I guess, services that are needed by the single people. And we're not -- this is not by choice for taking income support. It's because they have no choice and there's no jobs where we're from.

Mr. Speaker, I really think right across the whole, with the forgiving the CERB payment, is this Minister -- and I'm going to bring it forward in the next government, to take out the CERB payment claw backs on the second one and the disability payments that the federal government did, and they are being taken away from our people back home under this program, so is the Minister willing to look at that and taking those payments and claw backs and give it back to the people instead of doing the federal government's dirty work. Thank you.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As far as I know, we don't claw back disability payments. We don't do debt collection for the federal government. So I look forward to the Member providing some more concrete information that I can look into. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. At the end of the day, we're not giving these people enough support. Can the Minister commit to forgiving clients who receive federal supports during the pandemic and ensuring they continue to receive their income support and resources? Thank you.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This government did exempt a significant amount of the federal supports that were provided to residents by the Government of Canada. We made clear that certain income from the government would be deducted. And so there should be no reason now why income support is clawing anything back because those residents would have claimed that they were receiving that income at that time. I'll also note that although it is delayed, the rollout of the new income assistance program, this government has increased income -- has approved increases to income assistance that we haven't seen in a generation. There's significantly more exceptions. There's more incentive for people to get out there and find work, or rather we're removing the disincentives to work. So we have made significant progress. It's just a matter of getting that program rolled out. I'd like to think if it wasn't for the evacuations, it would be coming out next month but that's yet to be determined. But I know staff are working hard to try and get this program off the ground so that we can better support residents. Because I agree, what we've been providing for the past, you know, 20 years, it's remained relatively static. And the prices have gone up in the past 20 years so change was needed. We committed to that at the beginning of this government, and we've made those changes. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions today are for the Minister of health and social services.

Mr. Speaker, in February of this year, the Minister indicated that the midwifery program implementation was being held up by staffing challenges. Can the Minister provide this House with an update on recruitment for the midwifery program? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there is a shortage nationally and internationally of midwifery candidates which is hobbling our efforts to fully staff our program. That doesn't diminish our commitment, and we are still actively recruiting for midwives wherever the program exists. So to be more specific, the territorial manager position is vacant and currently open for competition. The midwifery specialist position is filled and will focus and support the territorial program. Fort Smith, one out of three positions are filled so the services are limited. Hay River, two out of 3.75 full-time equivalent positions are staffed. And this includes the services that -- that staff there includes the services provided to Fort Resolution with visits that occur every six weeks. Yellowknife, one out of four positions are filled. And this position has been redeployed to support stabilization of staffing in Fort Smith because there are alternatives to midwife use in Yellowknife. So in short we are very short staffed, but we continue to advertise to fill all the vacant positions. Thank you.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, can the Minister speak to whether or not the health and social services midwifery recruitment team is looking at fostering relationships with midwifery training institutions to create practicum-like opportunities here in the Northwest Territories? Thank you.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the health and social services system doesn't have any formal relationships of the type that the Member is talking about. But I think there's room for us to be proactive there because we do, in fact, welcome students to do practicums in our health and social services system and that, of course, extends to midwifery as well. So I think that there's room for us to perhaps create a more solid relationship with one of the training facilities to make sure that we have a steady supply of students. Thank you.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. And thank you to the Minister for that as well. I know that this is not, you know, an area where we'd need to reinvent the wheel. The Northwest Territories does this with other health care positions and other jurisdictions do it with midwifery. So I appreciate the Minister's support on that one.

Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering what work is being done to create opportunities and support certification processes in the Northwest Territories for internationally-trained midwives that might be interested in moving to the Northwest Territories? Thank you.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as with other health professions, we don't have the capacity to evaluate international credentials to decide whether they meet the registration requirements in our jurisdiction. So what we count on is that internationally trained health care providers are licensed in another province and once that happens, they're eligible for registration in the NWT. So we depend on the greater capacity of the provinces to assess their credentials and then once they've been assessed and found to be adequate, then of course we would register them here in the NWT as well. The business about evaluating international credentials is something that the whole health and social services system across the country is looking at because it's a very uneven approach as things stand now. Thank you.