This is page numbers 6417 - 6500 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 indigenous.

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Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Introduction

Bill 77: Nursing Profession Act (Bill 77) received second reading on March 29, 2023, and was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Development (Committee) for review. Bill 77 repeals and replaces the Licensed Practical Nurses Act (Act), which has only had minor amendments since coming into force in 2004. It is intended to improve regulatory function by establishing a single regulatory framework for all nurses in the Northwest Territories (NWT). It will also standardize the assessment of credentials and oversight of nursing practices under one regulatory structure.

Bill 77 was developed through close collaboration with Registered Nurses Association of Northwest Territories and Nunavut (RNANTNU), which will be renamed the College and Association of Nurses of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Regulatory bodies of this kind have been established in other jurisdictions.

Bill 77 changes the following:

  • Repeals the Licensed Practical Nurses Act and transfers the authority of RNANTNU;
  • Establishes new nursing designations, scopes of practice, registers, and associated requirements for Licensed Practical Nurse, Registered Nurse Authorized Prescriber,
  • Registered Psychiatric Nurse, and Registered Psychiatric Nurse Authorized Prescriber;
  • Allows Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses who meet certain qualifications to order and interpret specific diagnostic and screening tests, make diagnoses, and prescribe specific medications;
  • Updates the complaints and discipline process, including the appointment of a Complaints Officer;
  • Adds a requirement for employers to report to RNANTNU if they terminate a nurse, or if the nurse chooses to resign instead of being terminated, due to unprofessional conduct;
  • Adds by-law making powers to regulate the practice of nurses, including nurses who practice solely through virtual care; and
  • Modernizes language.

Committee Considered Public Input

Committee sought public feedback on Bill 77 with a public notice and targeted engagement letters. Committee received written submissions from the Canadian Nurses Protective Society (CNPS), Scott Robinson RN, and RNANTNU which are appended to this report.

On May 10, 2023, Committee held a public hearing to review Bill 77. At that meeting, Committee heard remarks from the Minister of Health and Social Services and her staff, and they received oral comments from RNANTNU and the public. Committee thanks all these participants for their engagement.

One area of concern identified was the need to provide clarity and certainty with respect to the complaints process. Committee agreed with this concern. RNANTNU stressed the need to redact information in the complaints summary to protect client health and other sensitive information. In response, Committee stressed the importance of procedural fairness, specifically that nurses should receive full, unredacted copies of complaints made against them.

Committee also had concerns about how complaints regarding unprofessional conduct would be addressed by the new statutory officer created by Bill 77, and asked questions about complaints related to Cultural Safety competencies and standards of care for Indigenous residents and those living in small communities. The Minister referred to Living Well Together: Indigenous Cultural Awareness and Sensitivity Training for GNWT employees, and RNANTNU discussed existing standards of practice with respect to Cultural Safety during the public hearing. While these continuing Cultural Safety initiatives are important, Committee stressed the need for nurses to provide culturally safe care in the NWT. Committee was initially concerned about changes to the scope of practice, job descriptions, and change of pay for some nurses. For instance, Registered Psychiatric nurses will see major changes with Bill 77 because they will now be regulated in the NWT.

Committee also asked questions about whether the Government of the Northwest Territories was corresponding with Nunavut on amendments to the Act and heard that the territories were working together but not aligned legislatively. RNANTNU maintains it will be able to operate under the NWT and Nunavut's respective Acts governing the practice of nursing in both jurisdictions.

One area that CNPS and other members of the public identified was the need to provide clarity around insurance and protection, as well as the appeal mechanism for respondents ordered to pay costs during the complaints process. Committee shared these concerns.

After careful consideration, Committee supported six motions amending Bill 77. Three of these proposed amendments were the direct result of public engagement. Committee negotiated the exact wording with the GNWT. The other three proposed amendments were non-contentious: two corrections were made to French language clauses in the Act, and one was an agreed upon change regarding insurance and liability protection.

Committee Amended Six Clauses

Motion 1

Both Committee and the GNWT supported the submission made by CNPS to amend Clause 20 of Bill 77 by adding the words “liability insurance or protection” to paragraph 20(1)(t), striking out "liability insurance." A motion reflecting this change was drafted and passed at the clause-by-clause review.

Motions 2 and 4

While Committee noted the mechanism in place to appeal decisions, submissions during public engagement noted this would not apply to costs of investigations in situations where complaints were dismissed by the Board of Inquiry.

Two motions related to this issue were drafted. The first proposed that Bill 77 be amended by adding language “establishing the procedure to be followed in appeals of directions to pay the costs of investigations” after clause 20(1)(z.19). The second amended clause 67 by introducing substantial changes regarding an “Appeal of Direction to Pay Costs of Investigation” where a hearing was not required 67.1(1), concerning notice of direction 67.1(2), appeal 67.1(3), referral to the Board of Inquiry 67.1(4), and language clarifying an order as to costs 67.1(5). The Minister concurred with both motions, and they were passed at the clause-by-clause review.

Motion 3

Committee feels that it is procedurally fair for nurses to receive full, unredacted copies of complaints made against them. Committee also noted that while nurses are entitled to receive a copy of a complaint made against them under the Act, they may be unaware of this right.

The GNWT and RNANTNU remain concerned about protecting client health information, and redacting potentially vexatious material from complaints, and therefore prefer to provide summaries of complaints.

After negotiation with the GNWT, a motion was drafted concerning “notice of right to receive copy of complaint” which proposed to amend clause 56(5) by adding “(5.1) A summary of a complaint provided under paragraph (2)(a) or (5)(a) must include a statement advising the respondent of the right to receive a copy of the complaint under paragraph (2)(b) or (5)(b) on request.” The Minister concurred with the motion, and it was passed at the clause-by-clause review.

Motions 5 and 6

Committee agreed to support the GNWT's recommendation to correct the French versions of clause 70, under the heading “Renvoi à une commission d'enquête” and 119(3), by striking out "qui n'est pas un médecin" and substituting "qui est un médecin." Two motions reflecting these amendments were drafted and passed at the clause-byclause review.

Conclusion

On May 31, 2023, Committee held a clause-by-clause review.iv Committee passed the motions to report Bill 77, as amended, to the Legislative Assembly as ready for consideration in Committee of the Whole. In the House on June 1, Bill 77, Nursing Profession Act, was orally reported as ready. On June 2, Bill 77 was cited in the Orders of the Day as one of the items under Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters.

This concludes Standing Committee on Social Development's review of Bill 77: Nursing Profession Act.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Reports of standing and special committees. Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Great Slave, that Committee report 59-19(2), Standing Committee on Social Development Report on the Review of Bill 77: Nursing Profession Act, be received and adopted by the Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. The motion is in order. To the motion?

Some Hon. Members

Question.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any think abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Reports of standing and special committees. Member for Kam Lake.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

September 27th, 2023

Page 6439

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, your Standing Committee on Social Development is pleased to provide its Report on the Review of Bill 82: Legal Profession Act.

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Great Slave, that Committee Report 58-19(2) be deemed read and printed in Hansard in its entirety. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6439

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. The motion is in order. To the motion?

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6439

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried. Bill 82 is deemed read and moved into Hansard.

---Carried.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
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Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Introduction

Bill 82: Legal Profession Act (Bill 82) received second reading on March 30, 2023, and was referred to the Standing Committee on Social Development (Committee) for review.

Bill 82 repeals and replaces the existing Legal Profession Act (Act). The changes modernize the legislation based on the recommendations from a discussion paper created by the Law Society of the Northwest Territories (Society) to the Department of Justice. Specifically, Bill 82 will:

  • Specify the purpose and administration of the Society.
  • Define "member" of the Society and revise conditions for membership.
  • Broaden the definition of the "practice of law."
  • Modernize and expand the tools available for dealing with lawyer misconduct.
  • Define the Assurance Fund, create a time limit for claims, and permit the Society to make charges against the Fund and to pursue claims against lawyers.
  • Give the Society the ability to appoint interim custodians of a member's property and practice and approve that a lawyer may open a trust account.
  • Address other matters such as expanding on liability protections, disclosure and safeguarding of solicitor-client privilege, use of titles, violations under the Act and associated fines, and obligations related to financial inspections and audits of lawyers.

The existing Legal Profession Act was passed in 1976 and established the Society as the body that regulates lawyers in the NWT. In 2018, a Revision Committee was established by the Executive of the Society to consult on and recommend changes, as the Act has not been extensively reviewed since it was first enacted. Parts of the existing Act are considered obsolete, and key issues related to the regulation of lawyers remain unaddressed.

This report outlines key events leading up to the introduction of Bill 82; describes Committee's engagement with stakeholders; and summarizes stakeholder positions and Committee decisions.

Committee Welcomes Improvements to Legal Profession Act

In October 2022, the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight (AOC) received the Legislative Proposal for Bill 82. AOC confirmed support of the Bill with the Government House Leader and Bill 82 was tabled in the House during the February-March 2023 Sitting.

Committee held a public hearing on May 10, 2023, and completed its clause-by-clause review of Bill 82 with the Minister of Justice on May 31, 2023. Committee did not propose any amendments to the Bill.

Committee Considered Public Input

Committee sought public feedback on Bill 82 with a public notice and targeted engagement letters. Committee received written submissions from:

  • The Law Society of the Northwest Territories;
  • Mr. Brian Flewelling, a private resident;
  • Northwest Territory Métis Nation; and
  • Délı̨nę Got'ı̨nę Government.

All written submissions are included in an Appendix to this report. Additionally, during the public hearing on Bill 82, Committee heard remarks from the Minister of Justice, asked questions to Departmental officials, and received oral comments from the Society and Mr. Flewelling. Committee thanks the Society and Mr. Flewelling for their engagement. Their participation helped inform Committee discussions on key issues for future consideration.

Committee Concerns

Overall, Committee supported Bill 82 since it was first introduced. However, before advancing the Bill, there were several areas of concern that Committee wanted further feedback on from the public and the Minister of Justice. Those areas are:

  • Access to justice;
  • Cultural safety trainings taken by lawyers;
  • Public access to law libraries and legal materials;
  • Regulating paralegals; and
  • Pro bono legal services.

Before the end of the May-June 2023 Sitting, Committee received feedback from both the Law Society and the Minister of Justice regarding these areas of concern. Based on that feedback, Committee considered the Bill ready to be advanced to the next stage.

Access to Justice

In both its oral and written submissions, the Law Society explained that while access to justice is "an important and ever-present issue" for their profession, this is a broader issue that requires all justice system participants to help find the right solutions. The Society also stated that one of the recommendations in their discussion paper specifically addressed access to justice, which in Bill 82 is section 21(2)(e):

- S.21(2) No person shall carry on the practice of law in the Northwest Territories or hold out that they are entitled to practise law or that they are a registrant of the Law Society, unless the person is:

a. an active registrant of the Law Society;

b. authorized to practise law by the governing body for lawyers in an extra-territorial jurisdiction approved by the Executive and has met the requirements established by the Law Society of the Northwest Territories to engage in the practice of law in the Northwest Territories;

c. a student-at-law and is practising law in accordance with the rules;

d. a law student and is practising in accordance with the rules; or

e. otherwise authorized under this Act or the rules to carry on the practice of law in the Northwest Territories.

As well as section 22(4)(d) of Bill 82, which reads:

- S.22(4) The following classes of registrants exist for the Law Society:

a. Lawyers;

b. Students-at-law;

c. Law students;

d. Any other class of individuals providing limited legal services set out in the rules.

All specified rules throughout these two sections need to be further developed by the Law Society, with the end goal of greater access to justice. Upon learning this, Committee considered this concern sufficiently addressed.

Cultural Safety Training

Committee initially contemplated whether Bill 82 should have included a provision requiring all legal professionals practicing in the NWT to undergo mandatory training for cultural safety and trauma-informed practices. However, in the Society's written submission, they explained that this area would be addressed through the Law Society's rules, not the Act. Committee also learned the Law Society requires cultural safety training on an annual basis. Upon learning this, Committee considered this concern sufficiently addressed.

Public Access to Legal Materials

Committee recognizes that the NWT's sole Law Library was closed due to budgetary reasons, therefore there was concern that this created a barrier to public access to legal materials for residents and legal professionals. While the Law Society did acknowledge this in their submissions, they state that the Law Foundation is granted a mandate under the Act to establish, maintain, and operate law libraries. The Society also stated that their organization does provide public access to legal resources such as the Legal Resource Center, with the support of the Department of Justice, and CanLii, a free online legal database, with the support of the Federation of Law Societies. While Committee agreed that the responsibility of law libraries did not lie with the Law Society, Committee did identify concerns that law libraries and support services to improve access to justice resources are not being made available through the Department of Justice. This concern remains.

Regulating Paralegals

Committee wrote to the Minister of Justice on whether the Department considered including a provision within Bill 82 to regulate paralegals and clearly define what a paralegal is and what they can and cannot do. The Minister did not see this approach as practical given the limited number of paralegals in the NWT. Further, the Minister stated that this type of provision is out of scope of the Bill, would be too burdensome on the Law Society, and is better addressed through the rules of the Law Society itself. Upon hearing this, Committee considered this concern sufficiently addressed.

Pro Bono Legal Services

Committee is concerned about changes to the Law Society membership fee structure within the legislation for lawyers offering pro bono legal services to residents. The Minister indicated that as lawyers are a self-governing profession, the Law Society retains discretion over establishing fees through its rules. The Minister also stated that to protect the Law Society as a regulator, it is the Department's view that fees for pro bono services are an issue that is best addressed within the rules of the Law Society. Further, the Minister stated that the Law Society confirmed a willingness to reduce or waive fees in support of pro bono services through their rules. Upon hearing this, Committee considered this concern sufficiently addressed.

Conclusion

On May 31, 2023, Committee held a clause-by-clause review. Committee passed a motion to report Bill 82 to the Legislative Assembly as ready for consideration in Committee of the Whole. This concludes the Standing Committee on Social Development's review of Bill 82: Legal Profession Act.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Member for Great Slave.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
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Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Monfwi, that Committee Report 60-19(2), Standing Committee on Social Development Report on the Review of Bill 80: Dental Hygienists Profession Statute Amendment Act, be received and adopted by the Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. The motion is in order. To the motion?

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Member for Kam Lake.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Great Slave, that Committee report 58-19(2), Standing Committee on Social Development Report on the Review of Bill 82: Legal Professions Act, be received and adopted by the Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. The motion is in order. To the motion?

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Report 58-19(2): Report on Bill 82, Legal Profession Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Reports of standing and special committees. Member for Deh Cho.

Committee Report 62-19(2): Report on Bill 74, Forest Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6440

Ronald Bonnetrouge

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Your Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment is pleased to provide its report on Bill 74, Forest Act, and commends it to the House. Report on Bill 74, the Forest Act.

Executive Summary

The Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment was tasked with reviewing Bill 74: Forest Act in the final year of the 19th Legislative Assembly. Committee reviewed Government of the Northwest Territories policies, programs, and legislation related to forest management as Bill 74 is intended to change how the GNWT manages and protects forests, communities, and values threatened by wildfire. Committee travelled to four communities during its review and engaged with stakeholders and the public at large.

Committee recognizes that Bill 74 is the first legislation to be developed collaboratively with Indigenous governments and co-management bodies in accordance with the Intergovernmental council on Land and Resource Management: Legislative Development Protocol. Bill 74 is also the first legislation to be reviewed under the "Process Convention for the Introduction, Consideration and Enactment of Bills Drafted Pursuant to the Intergovernmental council Legislative Development Protocol." While this is a first for the NWT, the territory is the only jurisdiction in Canada where the legislative branch of government reviews laws not just with the executive branch but also with Indigenous governments. Committee also considered this precedent setting legislation, the input we received, and reflected on the review process generally. All this information informs a range of recommendations to the GNWT with the intent and purpose of improving forest management and wildfire prevention in the NWT.

Recommendation 1: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that the GNWT undertake an independent third-party comprehensive review of GNWT fire prevention and suppression with public engagement. This review should consider the policy framework, coordination with other governments and agencies, funding for these activities, as well as departmental practices concerning firefighter safety. The findings of the review be made publicly available on a GNWT website.

Recommendation 2: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that the department review what information it can and should provide regarding its internal interactive fire databases, its communication efforts and how information is presented and organized on its website to improve access to and knowledge of fire prevention and suppression activities and practices.

Recommendation 3: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that there be an annual meeting between relevant GNWT departmental staff and each community to review values at risk, fire prevention and suppression preparedness, coordination of efforts, and related matters.

Recommendation 4: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that representatives from technical working groups should meet with standing committee earlier in the process, closer to the beginning of the co-drafting process, to discuss opportunities to share information on policy options and policy intentions for resource management legislation.

Recommendation 5: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that if the overall legislative timeframe allows, there should be the ability to extend standing committee reviews of resource management bills to allow for completion of the collaborative review process.

Recommendation 6: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that exchanges between standing committees, the departments and technical working groups on the review of resource management bills should be made public where possible and documented in committee reports on resource management bills.

Recommendation 7: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that Departments undertaking the co-drafting of resource management legislation and regulations should secure additional resources for this process and conduct more robust public engagement.

Recommendation 8: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that departments undertaking the co-drafting of resource management legislation and regulations should share more information with the public about policy options and policy intentions and conduct public engagement earlier in the process (i.e., not wait until the end of the co-drafting process). Public engagement can and should run concurrently with the co-drafting process.

Recommendation 9: Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment recommends that the Department of Environment and Climate Change prepare a detailed budget and work plan for continued co-development of regulations necessary for a new Forest Act, allowing for more public engagement on those regulations and the implementation of its new responsibilities under a new Forest Act.

Committee Report 62-19(2): Report on Bill 74, Forest Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6441

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. The motion is in order. To the motion?

Committee Report 62-19(2): Report on Bill 74, Forest Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6441

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Committee Report 62-19(2): Report on Bill 74, Forest Act
Reports Of Standing And Special Committees

Page 6441

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Member for Deh Cho.

Committee Report 62-19(2): Report on Bill 74, Forest Act
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Ronald Bonnetrouge

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Member for Frame Lake, that the remainder of the Committee report 62-19(2) be deemed read and printed in Hansard in its entirety. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.