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Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2007, as MLA for Great Slave

Won his last election, in 2003, with 65% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Item 20: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, the need to book this amount in excess of $10 million has been well explained and well justified. If we know we may have a liability or a future liability or debt, we should flag it now and make sure that it's recorded for openness and accountability.

The detail in this area here is entirely environmental. It relates almost entirely to known or potential contamination from tank farms, fuel facilities, Mr. Chairman. This is not an uncommon situation all over North America, all over

the world. The question I wanted to ask was, as our government took over tank farms, airports and barge landings and various other facilities over the years from the federal government, from the former Northern Canada Power Commission, potentially even from the RCMP from some of the churches, to what extent have we determined that we are actually the ones liable for these potential costs and is there any historic or contingent liability that could, or should, be assessed where a previous owner or previous government may have been the ones who have built the tank farm and had some responsibility for its contamination, Mr. Chairman?

Tabled Document 47-15(6): Article From Northern News Services Entitled The Lure Of Government Salaries - August 1, 2007 August 17th, 2007

The third document would be a news story from Northern News Services dated August 1st relating to the release of this report, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 46-15(6): Press Release Entitled Not For Profit Salaries Woefully Inadequate Under GNWT Contracts - July 24, 2007 August 17th, 2007

The second document would be a related press release dated July 24th.

Tabled Document 45-15(6): Report On Developing And Implementing A Methodology For Determining Salary Ranges August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to table three documents. The first is a report in developing and implementing a methodology for determining salary ranges related to social service NGOs.

Question 147-15(6): Funding For Non-government Organizations August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we shouldn't allow this to get into such a bureaucratic argument at this stage. I am disappointed to hear that the Minister says we should compare ourselves to other jurisdictions. We should compare ourselves to the contracts and things that are in place. Mr. Speaker, we really need to look forward in a much more progressive and collaborative way and rethink this. I will ask once again, is the government going to instruct the business planners to really rethink the way we set up our partnerships and our long-term business with these organizations?

Question 147-15(6): Funding For Non-government Organizations August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister just told us that ultimately it's the cost that this Assembly has to consider. Mr. Speaker, is the Minister at all considering

the need that the people of the Northwest Territories have for the service? Isn't that really our primary job here?

Question 147-15(6): Funding For Non-government Organizations August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to see that we are making some progress here, but I don't know that I would say that allowing organizations to allow for forced growth really amounts to rethinking a partnership that we should engage in. Let's connect the dots here, Mr. Speaker. There are homelessness issues, family violence and dysfunction, and mental health issues grow in our communities and become more sophisticated. We rely very heavily on these organizations to be the frontline, go-to places to manage this for us. But even as these issues increase in our communities, we are disabling the organizations that we rely on to do this for us. Mr. Speaker, the report makes, among others, a very clear recommendation and clear benchmark that what we need to do is bring the pay and benefit package for these employees to within 80 percent of what the GNWT offers. Is that going to be a recommendation for the business planners in the coming fiscal year, Mr. Speaker?

Question 147-15(6): Funding For Non-government Organizations August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions this morning are for Mr. Roland, Minister of Finance. It relates to the situation or the increasingly desperate situation that our non-government organizations, especially in the social service sector, find themselves because of financial constraints. Mr. Speaker, in summarizing the overall findings of a recent study of staffing, the author of the report on behalf of several organizations states that unless there is a major rethinking over the next few years, the agencies that are now contracted to handle this kind of thing will not be able to continue to remain a viable economic alternative for government to turn to for support. They are seeking a rethinking of our overall approach to the incredibly effective and extremely good value for money agreements and arrangements that we've had for these organizations, but it is no longer sustainable until we change our approach. Mr. Speaker, are we rethinking our approach on funding these NGOs?

Item 5: Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to recognize in the gallery today Sue Glowach, a good family friend and also a great supporter of an organization that I

have been involved with for some time, the International Exchange Student Organization. I know that her family will again be welcoming a student to Yellowknife. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Funding Challenges Facing Non-government Organizations August 17th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the eight years I have served as MLA, few issues have received as much attention as the chronic financial problems facing our non-government organizations. These are agencies like the YWCA, Council for Persons with Disabilities, Sport North, and, as my colleague from Hay River South highlighted so effectively yesterday, the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre.

Over the years, these volunteer-driven agencies have become reliable, trustworthy and essential partners with our government in the delivery of an immense range of services and programs in virtually every community. But I deeply regret, Mr. Speaker, that, as a government, we have not acted in the same spirit and commitment as they have. That is because in our contract and service agreements with them, we have failed to keep up our side of the deal. That is because we are slowly starving them of the money they need to keep up their side of the deal.

The situation has reached a crisis point. In a recently released report, eight Yellowknife-based agencies outlined their stark reality of the challenges they face. The gap in salaries falls between 23 and 41 percent. That is as much as $30,000 a year of what equivalent work in the GNWT pays. Many of the staff have to work two jobs in order to keep a household going. Turnover rates average 50 percent a year and can be triple that level, and recruiting for vacant positions has stretched up to six months. Mr. Speaker, managers face a hopeless catch-22 situation of never being able to get ahead. They are forced to backfill for non-existent staff and cope with increasing mountains of paperwork and accountability that we demand of them.

In the report, they have given a clear business plan of what we can do. We need to catch up to within 80 percent of the GNWT's pay packet. I also advocate, Mr. Speaker, that we need to bring back the core funding model with multi-year agreements indexed to inflation to allow those volunteer boards that lead these organizations to the certainty and stability they need to lead their organizations in the vital work they do.

Mr. Speaker, above all, we need to change our political attitude. We need to treat them as true partners, genuinely value the contribution they make, and show that this government will change the way we do business and support their ideas and the service they give to us all. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause