This is page numbers 6303 - 6336 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.


Members Present

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

The House met at 1:31 p.m.



Page 6303

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, as we prepare to wrap up another school year, I want to highlight a number of exciting initiatives that reflect our government's commitment to improve student outcomes in the Northwest Territories. This semester, three high schools in the territory piloted the new Northern Studies 30 curriculum. This made-in-the-NWT high school course is the first in the territory to follow British Columbia's curricular framework. Topics range from oral history and traditions to historical land use, colonization, language reclamation, NWT treaties and land claim agreements, consensus government, and Arctic sovereignty. It also delves into the role of social media, mental health and addictions, and cultural appropriation.

Mr. Speaker, we are already seeing meaningful discussions and learning take place as part of this curriculum. At Ulukhaktok's school, elders advised and guided students to build an igloo village. This led to conversations about past, present, and future housing challenges in the North. Now, equipped with a deeper understanding, the class is working with elders and planning to build a permanent, accessible outdoor meeting space.

Mr. Speaker, this example highlights the benefits of hands-on, practical instruction based on competencies. This is core to the new, adapted junior kindergarten to grade 12 curriculum we will begin trialing in several grades this fall.

The British Columbia curriculum is modern, flexible, and emphasizes Indigenous perspectives and knowledge. It focuses on literacy and numeracy, not just reading, writing, and math but also communicating and problem solving. Rather than students memorizing definitions and dates, this curriculum encourages interaction and engagement. Students are empowered to get involved in their own education.

The curriculum committees made up of educators from across the NWT are working to adapt this modern curriculum to the NWT context. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment has finalized several major steps toward implementing the curriculum, including the timeline for each school year, new graduation requirements, and the schedule for educator training.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to talk about the excellent online education tool we have renewed this year, the NWT Historical Timeline. From origin stories to present day events, this timeline depicts the history, cultures, and people that make up this territory. It features photos and documents from the NWT Archives, as well as objects from the museum's collection including artwork, tools, clothing and more. This valuable resource makes these stories, photos, pivotal events, and ways of life accessible to not just students and educators but to everyone in the territory and beyond.

Mr. Speaker, an update on education would not be complete without recognition of those at the forefront of this work. In every community and in every school, our educators and school staff play a vital role in student success. It was my privilege earlier today to recognize the inductees of the 2023 Northwest Territories Education Hall of Fame. I would like to extend my congratulations once again to this year's inductees. These remarkable individuals are truly making a difference in the lives of children, students, educators and communities, and I thank them for their dedication and passion. We have many with us in the gallery today, and at the appropriate time I will be recognizing them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. June is Seniors Month, a time for us to recognize the important role of seniors in our families, communities, and the territory. They connect us with language, land, and culture, and bridge the past with the future.

Under the mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories 2019-2023, we are supporting this role by enabling seniors to age in place with dignity. We want to help seniors to remain at home for as long as they are able. In order to be successful, we must address the core issues. We collaborated across government and engaged seniors, their families and caregivers, municipal and Indigenous governments, and community organizations, to determine how we can improve programs, services, and initiatives to better meet the needs of seniors. The feedback we received helped the department to develop the Seniors Strategic Framework that will shape future efforts across government. The framework will be tabled this August.

Mr. Speaker, throughout the engagement process, we heard from seniors about their desire to be valued and included in meaningful ways in their communities. Today marks Intergenerational Day. Here is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and reach out across generations, fostering understanding, respect, and meaningful relationships.

Seniors want to connect with children, youth and adults alike, and share stories, culture, traditions, and wisdom drawn from a lifetime of experiences. Having strong intergenerational bonds not only contributes to wellness but also fosters a deep sense of belonging in communities. We need to recognize that many seniors experience isolation and loneliness which poses serious risks to their physical and mental well-being as well as makes them vulnerable to elder abuse. I encourage everyone to reach out and spend time with the seniors in their lives and communities today and every day.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to acknowledge that World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is coming up on June 15th. The United Nations established this day to create awareness and encourage dialogue about all types of abuse and neglect seniors face. Governments, communities, and families must all play pivotal roles in safeguarding the well-being and safety of seniors. The Government of the Northwest Territories is reinforcing this point by providing a poster and fact sheet about the different types of abuse seniors face. These resources are available on the Department of Health and Social Services website and will be distributed to communities this summer.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I urge all residents to join me in celebrating the role that seniors play in our lives and to recognize their important contributions to create healthy and vibrant families and communities across the NWT. They have laid the groundwork for everything we plan to further improve and accomplish, a foundation that is critical to the future of the territory Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission is always looking for new ways to support employers and create a safer workplace in the Northwest Territories. Through ongoing communication and engagement with employers, the WSCC identified an opportunity to improve their services and provide additional supports for employers facing occupational health and safety challenges that is separate from their role as an enforcer of the Safety Act through penalties and fines.

Mr. Speaker, the WSCC is proud to introduce the new positions of safety outreach representative. These new positions will provide employers with technical expertise, analysis, consultation, and collaboration of services to improve workplace occupational health and safety programs, meeting occupational health and safety regulatory requirements and ultimately improve workplace safety outcomes. The WSCC's mandate is to promote and improve health and safety in the workplace. These new positions will help to achieve this by supporting employers in their understanding of occupational health and safety roles and responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, safety outreach representatives will accomplish this through collaboration with employers and by providing resources and guidance to create or improve safety programs.

Mr. Speaker, these safety outreach representatives can directly help employers by helping them develop an OHS program, providing them with technical expertise to identify best practices to reduce workplace incidents, and sharing educational resources to improve OHS outcomes in the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, the WSCC wants to assure employers that safety outreach representatives are not safety officers. They do not have the mandate to enforce regulations and laws and are not going to provide safety officers with information that could lead to an inspection or penalty. This is a proactive, supportive step that does not penalize employers for requiring guidance to improve occupational health and safety outcomes at their workplaces.

Mr. Speaker, although safety outreach representatives will reach out to employers, and the WSCC hopes employers will take the advantage of this new non-penalty supporting and making their workplaces even safer.

Mr. Speaker, it is also important to note that this improved service is provided by reallocating existing resources within the WSCC. Employers will not incur any additional costs and their rates will not increase as a result of these new resources.

Mr. Speaker, the three safety outreach representatives at the WSCC are hired and in place. Two are located at the WSCC office here in Yellowknife and one ready to support employers in the Northwest Territories. The third is in the WSCC's office in Iqaluit, providing support to Nunavut employers. The WSCC aims to reduce workplace incidents and injuries and these safety outreach representatives are a great resource to help employers within their own workplaces. Together, we can achieve our vision of eliminating workplace diseases and injuries. Any employer who is looking to improve health and safety in the workplace can contact the WSCC and request support from one of our safety outreach representatives today.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to add that my colleague in Nunavut is delivering a similar announcement and statement today as well. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, in 2021 the Government of the Northwest Territories released the Northwest Territories Arts Strategy, a 10-year plan to improve NWT's arts programs and services and strengthen the territory's arts sector. The first key action identified in the strategy was to complete a review of the GNWT's arts programs so that we could have a better understanding of the changes required to help us achieve our goals for the sector.

The results of this review were released in November as part of the Arts Program Review Report, reflecting the thoughts and concerns of NWT artists, craftspeople, and arts and cultural organizations. The report identifies areas of strength and weakness and provides recommendations on how to improve arts programs and services to better serve NWT residents. The GNWT will soon release its official response to these recommendations, providing a list of planned actions, their expected outcomes, and anticipated completion dates.

Mr. Speaker, a great deal of work has been taking place behind the scenes to advance the arts strategy. We are updating departmental arts mandates, implementing a way to continuously monitor and assess the effectiveness of our programs and funding, improving how artists can find and access funding, and making improvements to arts funding programs, eligibility requirements and distribution.

This government invests approximately $2.9 million dollars in arts funding programs each year, but we know that changes can still be made to funding structures to better support NWT artists. In recognition of this, we are restructuring our existing funding programs, so they provide support to artists and arts and cultural organizations at all sizes and stages of their development.

Emerging and mid-career artists, small groups, and artists from small communities will be eligible for grants of up to $5,000 per year for small-scale arts projects. Established artists and arts and culture organizations can receive up to $10,000 per year for medium-sized arts projects. For large-scale arts projects, events, and festivals that bring vibrancy and economic benefits to our communities, organizations will be able to apply for $10,000 to $100,000 per year. Arts and cultural organizations that operate year-round will be eligible to access operational funding that will provide them with $20,000 to $200,000 per year.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment partners with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment on implementing the arts strategy. I am happy to hear that ITI is currently developing artist guidelines for the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development, or SEED funding, as it pertains specifically to arts stakeholders. To bring it all together, Mr. Speaker, ECE and ITI will develop and release a GNWT Arts Funding Roadmap that explains which department provides funding for different types of activities, making supports more accessible to artists, groups, and organizations. The announcement of this roadmap is expected in the coming months.

Mr. Speaker, the arts contribute to a strong economy and enhance shared community identity and belonging. The GNWT is committed to making meaningful changes to government arts programs and funding to help establish a strong and valued arts sector that benefits everyone living in the NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I say it numerous times throughout this Assembly that Fort Smith is home to some of the oldest school infrastructure in the territory, and it is also home to some of the last remaining former residential school and indian day school buildings that are still in active use in the country. The buildings I'm referring to are PWK High School and JBT Elementary School.

Mr. Speaker, JBT School is 65 years old and was originally a federal Indian Day School until the building was purchased by the Government of the Northwest Territories and was converted into an elementary school which is still being used for that purpose today. In addition, the former Grandin College used to be run by the Catholic Church as a residential school until the Government of the Northwest Territories bought it and converted it to PWK High School. Since then, it has continued to be used as the former residential school building as PWK High School in Fort Smith.

Mr. Speaker, Fort Smith is the centre for education in the NWT. It always has been and always will be, and I want to stress that we have excellent staff all around. Fort Smith has some extremely caring and devoted educators so I do not want to knock them at all in talking about the historical legacy of JBT or PWK schools.

So my point is the links between federal Indian Day Schools and residential school is undeniable. They are extensions of the same systems of colonialism, oppression, and assimilation towards Indigenous people. Therefore, I believe it is totally inappropriate and unacceptable for these buildings to continue being used as schools for our youth of today. If the young people of Fort Smith knew and understood the history of those buildings, I am sure they would feel unsure of the school they attend because I know that most, if not all the staff there, know of the history as do the parents and grandparents of the students who attend there today. Does our curriculum even teach or acknowledge this residential school and Indian Day School legacy that still remains in Fort Smith and the NWT? Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the statement by the Minister today on acknowledging what I was trying to say.

Mr. Speaker, both these schools are 65 and 61 years old so it's high time that they are decommissioned and replaced with brand new schools for the people of Fort Smith. It doesn't matter if either school has been maintained well and can still be used longer; the bottom line is these schools carry a heavy legacy and the youth of the future deserve better. Fort Smith needs a brand new state-of-the-art-school for both elementary and high school students so I am going to once again ask our government to follow their own capital needs assessment and replace the aging schools in Fort Smith. I will have questions for the Minister of ECE at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I went home to attend a meeting to discuss the operation and opening of the new fish plant in Hay River. Discussion on the subject lasted for four hours and was very informative and positive. However, another topic that arose outside that discussion was that of the Evacuee Income Disruption Support Program.

Mr. Speaker, fishers, and other self-employed business owners, have been affected by the evacuation order imposed by the Town of Hay River and K'atlodeeche. They have not only lost wages but lost business income as well and are unsure whether this program applies to them. I assured them it did and recommended they fill out an application if they wished to be considered for the $750 payment.

Mr. Speaker, the meeting about the fish plant ended around two in the afternoon at which time I went back to my office and found a lineup of evacuees, some with their children. They included both KFN and Hay River residents, some who were employed, some self-employed, some unemployed, some on income assistance, and some were pensioners; all were there to fill out the application for the $750 support promised by this government.

Mr. Speaker, each shared with me their stories and reasons of why they needed that $750 and why it was important they receive it as quickly as possible. Most of the people I met with were very stressed and traumatized by this event. Some I met with were crying as there was no other financial support options available to them except for what this government is providing.

The reasons for needing immediate support included:

  • Limited savings and income;
  • The need to pay rent or a mortgage payment;
  • The need to put food on the table;
  • The need for basic necessities; and,
  • The need for temporary shelter.

Mr. Speaker, it is times such as this that we, as government, must show our compassion and go the extra mile to make sure people are listened to and supported in a fair and timely manner. And, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what each of the evacuees are looking for when it comes to the Evacuee Income Disruption Support Program. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in 2021, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation passed its first law, Inuvialuit Qitunrariit Inuuniarnikkun Maligaksat, meaning the Inuvialuit Family Way of Life law. Maligaksat draws down jurisdiction for child welfare for Inuvialuit children and youth under federal Bill C-92, An Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis Children, Youth and Families.

Maligaksat establishes IRC's inherent right over child and family services to:

  • Ensure cultural continuity of Inuvialuit children and youth;
  • Enhance supports available to Inuvialuit families to thrive;
  • Improve information sharing with the GNWT; and,
  • Exercise Inuvialuit jurisdiction in an Inuvialuit way.

At first, the GNWT publicly supported IRC's Maligaksat. In November 2021, the Premier's public news release congratulated IRC on a "big step forward." But in 2022, to everyone's surprise, the GNWT reversed its support for Maligaksat. The GNWT intervened in a federal court case to challenge the very law that enabled Indigenous law to prevail over those of the provinces and territories when it came to the care of Indigenous children. The GNWT argues that the federal law that enables Maligaksat, "compromises the jurisdictional balance between Indigenous governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories."

Federal Minister Marc Miller called the NWT's position "wildly disappointing" and affirmed that "a basic trapping of nationhood and identity is the ability to have control and custody over your own children."

The GNWT is putting its own interests to retain power and control above the interests of Inuvialuit children and youth. The GNWT's intervention is dangerous and it harms Inuvialuit children and youth.

In 2018, the Auditor General released a damning report condemning the GNWT's child and family services. The GNWT is failing Indigenous children and youth in care who are currently overrepresented, at 98 percent, of those in care. This injustice is tied to Canada's colonial legacy of removing, assimilating, and destroying Indigenous children and youth. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and my colleagues. As I said, this injustice is tied to Canada's colonial legacy of removing, assimilating, and destroying Indigenous children and youth. I share this truth with the utmost care and respect for Indigenous families and communities that have had to reckon and are still healing from this.

Indigenous governments face significant barriers as it relates to child welfare. The GNWT intervention contradicts the spirit of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and damages relationships with IRC and, potentially, other Indigenous governments.

Mr. Speaker, at this point, I am calling on the GNWT to:

  1. Immediately remove itself as an intervener from the federal court case even if it is only symbolically;
  2. To repair its relationship with the IRC and other Indigenous governments with respect to children and family service; and
  3. Support Indigenous governments' readiness to draw down jurisdiction for the welfare of their children and youth.

Until Indigenous governments have full control of their children, this will continue to be a colonial government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. In the last sitting, I raised a number of concerns with the review of the Fiscal Responsibility Policy. Apparently, that policy has now been revised effective April 1 although a thorough search of GNWT websites could not locate the revised version until yesterday.

The finance minister said in March that there was "fairly detailed" engagement with standing committee. I stated that the work we did as Regular MLAs on what was given to us is some of the finest feedback in my more than seven years as an MLA. Unfortunately, the public will probably never get to see that feedback and the recommendations we made. In my view, almost all of our advice was soundly rejected by the Minister. The Minister rejected something as basic as providing an opportunity for public engagement. It seems the Minister views the Fiscal Responsibility Policy as an internal policy and apparently not worthy of public input. However, the Minister revealed that credit-rating agencies did get a "check-in". It appears the review was aimed at appeasing the credit-rating agencies not the duly-elected MLAs or the public.

MLAs have politely asked and recommended transparent reporting on compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Policy and consequences, if only a remediation plan. We have asked for in-year reporting and greater accountability that was again rejected in Cabinet's response to the most recent committee report on the public accounts. I have expressed concerns about the growing use of P3 financing for large, and often questionable, capital projects and the need for greater disclosure of the impacts on our operating budgets to no avail. I will have questions for the finance minister later today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On May 6th, Mr. Speaker, Frank Gruben was last seen in Fort Smith. Twenty-six days have passed. After speaking to his mother today, I want to shed light on it again.

Twenty-six days dedicated volunteers searched for Frank every single day. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank each and every one of them for doing what they're doing.


They've been working tirelessly, searching for Frank, and those who are doing everything they can do to bring Frank home. The volunteer groups and friends of the family searching for Frank, Salt River First Nation; Fred Daniels, mayor; Frieda Martselos, the MLA; and then every person who is praying for Frank and the family.

I know Frank as a baby, Mr. Speaker. I grew up with his dad John John -- we called him usuk -- and his aunties and uncles Don Don, Edna, and Darlene, and the whole Gruben family. He was so proud of his son.

Mr. Speaker, Frank went to Fort Smith to attend college. When you send your children to college, Mr. Speaker, you expect them to come back, no matter. No mother or parent should have to cry and wonder where their child is. Frank's been missing, Mr. Speaker, for 26 days. What expertise and resources has the RCMP for searching for the missing in the cases across the territory, and especially for Frank? In reality of the truth, Mr. Speaker, we're failing. We failed. Someone in the community knows something that what happened to Frank. And, Mr. Speaker, I'm speaking to them right now: Do what's right. Call the RCMP. Call Crime Stoppers. We have to bring Frank home to his mother so she could grieve properly and to the people of Aklavik to be able to grieve him as a whole family and not wondering where their son is. You know, Mr. Speaker, as Inuvialuit, we're never going to stop looking, as in the Gwich'in; we're never going to stop looking and I thank Salt River First Nation. Mr. Speaker, I'm going to call out on the Minister today, at the appropriate time, on what the RCMP's doing and to work with them, to work together to bring Frank home. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today as the MLA for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh in the Northwest Territories to address a matter of utmost importance that affects the most vulnerable members of our society - our children.

Recent revelation from the Auditor General of Canada reports into child and family services in Nunavut have revealed serious and damning faults in their system. This report calls for an immediate whole-of-government approach to address the challenge of protecting children in the government care. While the focus of this report is on Nunavut, it would be remiss of us not to examine our own situation here in the Northwest Territories. We must ask ourselves, are we immune to the same systematic deficiencies that plague our neighbours? Can we honestly say that we're doing enough to protect the rights and well-being of our children?

In the 2018 Auditor General Report into the Northwest Territories Child and Family Services found serious deficiencies for children in temporary, permanent, and foster care. This is clear indication that we too face significant challenges in our child and family services system. We cannot ignore the warning signs, nor we cannot turn a blind eye to the urgent need for reform. Our children deserve better. They deserve a system that prioritizes their safety and well-being in the future. We have a moral obligation to protect them and provide them with the care and support they need to thrive.

The Auditor General's report in Nunavut highlighted the need for a whole-of-a-government approach. This means breaking down silos, working collaboratively across departments to ensure the holistic well-being of our children. We must bring together health, education, social services, and other relevant departments to create a comprehensive support network for children in care. It is only through this integrated approach that we can effectively address the complex challenge that our children face.

Furthermore, the report emphasizes the importance of community engagement. We must actively involve Indigenous governments, leaders, elders, knowledge-keepers, in the decision-making process that affect our children. Their wisdom and guidance are invaluable in shaping policies, practices, that are culturally sensitive and responsible, responsive to the unique needs of our diverse communities.

I'll call upon the Government of the Northwest Territories to take immediate action. We must allocate the necessary resources to improve the quality of care and support services for our children. We must invest in training, professional development for our child and family services staff to ensure they have the skills and knowledge required to provide the high standard of care. We must also enhance accountability and transparency within the system and ensure that proper oversight mechanisms are in place for the prevention and procurement of the deficiencies identified in the audit. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I'll have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to share the story of one resident's path to getting healing. It begins with a violent and sudden death of a family member, and that resident, you know, starts to struggle to sleep, develops severe anxiety, has nightmares, and it starts to affect their ability at their job, Mr. Speaker.

Some weeks go by and things don't get better in processing that trauma so they decide to seek help. They do what many of us do. They go to the GNWT website and they find we have a community counselling program. You know, it takes a few calls but eventually they get into a same-day program. But it becomes abundantly clear, in speaking with that counsellor, that this is not a matter just for a regular community counsellor. They have to get in -- they get in to see a psychiatrist. I'm sure that counsellor tries their best, but a psychiatrist is the place they are recommended to start. It takes a few more weeks, a number of phone calls to, you know, finally get in a spot with the psychiatrist. The initial assessment is quite obviously PTSD and some more time to get medication. The medication starts to help, but it is the psychiatrist's recommendation that a regular program of therapy with a psychologist occur.

That resident asks, can I get a referral to a psychologist and unfortunately that is not something we do. We have a few psychologists on staff, but they are not able to be referred for general members of the public. They said they have to go and phone psychologists which are found on a website who are privately funded. They make a few phone calls, Mr. Speaker, and then quickly finds out that some of their wait lists are years. Many of them do not specialize in PTSD, and many of them just rightfully can't add them to their wait list knowing they can't take on new patients.

This resident struggles - struggles to find a psychologist willing to treat their PTSD. Things are not getting better. They're struggling at work. Eventually this patient decides to go out of territory and find an online psychologist. This was not their first preference. They wanted to meet in person. It was not something they were necessarily comfortable with doing it virtually, but they begin to get help. It costs over $200 an hour to have those appointments. They are paid out of their pocket and as they are struggling to work, this becomes a significant financial burden where they are then faced with continuing to treat their PTSD or to put food on the table for their family.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this resident eventually pulls through. Through the help of medication and their own will starts to process their trauma and starts to heal. Yet, Mr. Speaker, it was not an easy path, and we know many people go through this and fall through the cracks. I'll have questions for the Minister of health about what we can do to make sure people have access to a psychologist when they need one. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.