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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was know.

Last in the Legislative Assembly November 2015, as MLA for Weledeh

Won his last election, in 2011, with 89% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Madam Chair. I just hope the Minister is right. I’m hoping if I’m ever

driven to listening to our proceedings a year from now…

---Laughter

…that I am not seeing this same thing yet again. The sound system sure is a soaker for gobbling up cash. Just a comment. Thank you.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Madam Chair. The deputy minister has just said exactly what I said, albeit in more flowery terms. This is extremely disappointing. We have been trying to get this approved,

the

Child

and

Family

Services

Information System, as the Minister of Health knows, since the 16th Assembly. It was recognized

that our child and family services workers are so flummoxed by this useless piece of software that they spend times driven to smoking, leaving the building and going out to smoke, because this is a useless piece of software that we have

and it’s

affecting the delivery of child and family services. The Auditor General was on about exactly this stuff, and y

ear after year after year we’ve transferred

dollars. I guess I’m just so tired of it and I can’t imagine what our workers are feeling when they’re absolutely driven to extraction and doing unhealthy things from a useless piece of software that they simply

can’t even administer, follow, record the

family’s history over time, extended family’s history over time, critical for being able to support our families as needed.

Can I ask what’s going on here? Thank you.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Madam Chair. Could I have an explanation of this last item of $280,000? It sounds like there was a surplus in the child and family services budget for the information system that we’ve been trying to get in place for years now. In fact, I was

told there was ongoing work that we’d

approved for this fiscal year and that there was even more capital dollars planned for next year to finish off the Child and Family Services Information System. If I’ve got that right, I’m questioning how there can be

this $280,000 in surplus given we’re

barely halfway through the year, if I’m understanding this correctly. Thank you.

Motion 48-17(5): Northwest Territories Disabilities Services, Carried October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like

to start by recognizing the Minister’s call for all people to be working on this, all those of us in authority, and have some responsibility for doing work on this. I think, in this particular case, I know when I, along with my colleagues Bisaro and Hawkins, in this case, attended the latest AGM of NWT council, I was a little bit shocked. I think Mr. Moses expressed disappointment that I felt in myself for not being more on top of that.

I’m glad to hear the Minister has already been working with the council and community councils in addressing many of the issues that we’re raising today, and this will be good support for him and the 18th Assembly.

I th

ink, as mentioned, we’re really talking about our

constituents, thousands of whom and thousands of families, thousands of constituent families are persons with disabilities or struggling with those

things, so we’re talking about our own people. We’re talking about community well-being. We’re asking this to be made a real and active priority with every department, and we’ve heard from the Minister of Health and Social Services. We’re asking that this be given the profile in every department and that every department be given the tools to actively address the priorities that have been identified by the council. Again, as the Minister said, this is a message we are asking to be carried forward.

We heard from several people that this is very disheartening to see people with disabilities struggling in our communities when in fact we have the opportunity to provide the key supports they need. I am a little disappointed we didn’t, including myself. I appreciate that we’re starting to get after that, and I appreciate hearing from all my colleagues today.

The community council perspectives are important. They are active and critical for persons with disabilities in every community. We heard that mobility and the handivan issue is common.

Finally, I think full acceptance and inclusion of persons with disabilities within our society is our goal. We haven’t done a good job. We can do better. The Minister has got to start, and the folks on this side of the House are indicating their willingness and their message to the 18th Assembly

to support that work and address every priority out there. I’ll leave it at that and ask for a recorded vote. Mahsi.

Motion 48-17(5): Northwest Territories Disabilities Services, Carried October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is something I learned about at the recent AGM, annual general meeting, of the Disabilities Council. It turns out that we did good work back in the 15th Assembly and even the 14th . Starting in 2004 there

was interest in addressing the issues people with disabilities face. In 2008 there was an action plan that was produced and tabled in the House and there was some good work that went on in between times.

Between 2008 and 2015, however, there seemed to be a major shift and focus away from disabilities. This prompted the NWT c

ouncil’s interest and

proposal to the Stabilization Fund for NGOs, a program under the Premier which was much appreciated, to evaluate the action plan and feedback on services in the North from multiple vested groups. They had substantial feedback, as it turned out, from people who both shared their personal stories, those who shared their experience in the work that they do with people with disabilities, and actually some departments, as well, who shared information and status on programs and services. From this work it was clear that there are gaps and a new strategic plan with measurable outcomes and ongoing evaluation is required.

The ultimate conclusion was that we need to restart the conversation and refocus the land back onto people with disabilities throughout the North and the people and families that support and care for those individuals.

The work that they did as a result of the Stabilization Fund was modest but significant, enabling them to get some work going. The survey responses came from 321 people throughout the territory, including 115 living with disability, 58 parents or caregivers and 148 service providers, and as we heard today in statements, these were from 32 communities.

The report of the council focused on the five building blocks, which I mentioned: education, employment, income, disability supports and housing. In each area there were five priorities that were selected. Within education, an example is a third of the respondents identified difficulties with physical barriers in education settings.

They concluded that needs for education, both at the institutional and personal levels, need training for educators and they need physical accessibility for

educational

institutions

and

access

to

accommodations.

Under the area of employment, again there were several priorities identified. They found under personal limitations, 15.7 percent stated that even after all barriers to employment had been addressed, some people will still be unable to work. Because of this, sufficient income supports must be available so that all people can live comfortably.

Under the employment block, some of the priorities were extending the duty to accommodate to the private sector; put in place a funding resource program for workplace accommodations; employer training for awareness of disability issues and accommodations; physical access to workplaces and public spaces; and reassessing income support, especially for those who are completely prevented from being able to work.

Again, under the block of income, poverty and security, high cost of living and benefits, cost of programs and services were all priorities and they found that 20 percent of 115 personal survey respondents stated that last year alone they had spent over $1,000 out of pocket on health and support related specifically to their disability.

The priorities under that area of income were poverty and low income families and individuals needing to be prioritized, especially those who are at risk of poverty and living pay cheque to pay cheque, and I know some of these things may be addressed obliquely in on our action plan on poverty, but we’re talking now about a subset of people who need extra attention.

Income exemption amounts and overall long-term ability structures for income assistance should be assessed. Emergency funds should be in place for those who may not qualify for income assistance, and we need to assess how many NWT applicants have had benefit applications denied due to doctor error or doctor turnover.

Another major area was disability supports, and included access to supports and information, relocation

for

services,

transportation

and

community accessibility, and under there that 25 percent of personal survey respondents identified a lack of transportation to and from services as an obstacle. We heard today in a Member’s statement from my colleague Mr. Nadli that that was a major issue. I talked to people in Hay River with a similar sort of thing.

Stigma and attitudinal barriers was a priority under this block of disability supports, and the need for trained professionals. Again, the priorities were addressing relocation concerns, so to keep people as close to home as possible; to address availability and affordability of aides and assistive devices; to address the lack of trained professionals through recruitment and retention; and an updated information guide to disability and supports and services is needed. It is now out of date. There is one as a result of the action plan, but it is in need of updating, and I think that’s something that should be routine.

Housing. Housing priorities included affordability, accessibility, modifications and renovations, and under that, 36 percent of respondents anticipated needing

major

repairs,

modifications

or

improvements to their homes in the next five to 10 years in order to assist them specifically, again, with their disabilities.

Safety, inclusion in the community was a priority area, and long-term care and supported living. Again, the priorities, actions: prioritize long-term care and supported living; prioritize and promote funding for housing modifications and renovations; address safety and inclusion concerns by building affordable and accessible housing, and consider a

rent cap or other strategy; and expand accessible design, promote and encourage high accessibility standards in their design.

I know my colleagues will speak and add depth and substance to many of these remarks. I want to express appreciation to the NWT Disabilities Council for doing this work. I think it points clearly to the need to get on top of these things, re-invigorate the process, renew the action plan and work with all to get this action done.

Motion 48-17(5): Northwest Territories Disabilities Services, Carried October 5th, 2015

WHEREAS Canada ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities in 2010;

AND WHEREAS persons with disabilities have the right to be treated equally, with dignity and respect;

AND WHEREAS almost 15 percent of the population of the NWT lives with a disability, which translates to a conservative 6,000 people, with challenges in every community;

AND WHEREAS an additional one in nine people in the NWT are impacted by a disability as family members and caregivers;

AND WHEREAS people with disabilities are at higher risk for neglect, abuse, poverty, isolation, depression and mental health and wellness issues;

AND WHEREAS in 2001 the Premier of the Northwest Territories set up a steering partnership

tasked to develop a framework for effective programs and services for persons living with disabilities in the Northwest Territories;

AND WHEREAS a 2008 GNWT Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities was adopted to meet the needs and improve the lives of people living with disabilities in the North;

AND WHEREAS there continues to

be considerable and long-standing barriers to full participation and citizenship in society for people with disabilities in the areas of what the NWT Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities identified as the five

building

blocks:

housing,

education,

employment, income and disability supports;

AND WHEREAS transportation, mobility and community funding issues are of primary and common concern for persons with disabilities across the NWT;

AND WHEREAS when the NWT Disabilities Council met with various stakeholder departments, some of the departments were unaware of the action plan;

AND WHEREAS the NWT Disabilities Council has done an evaluation of the implementation of the action plan and concluded that the effort has been woefully inadequate;

AND WHEREAS between 2008 and 2015 there was little progress, few accomplishments and no formal evaluation of the status of the actions called for in the plan;

NOW THEREFORE I MOVE, seconded by the honourable

Member

for Deh Cho, that

the

government work with the Northwest Territories Disabilities Council and

community

councils to

assess the reasons for the failure to implement the action plan formulated in 2008;

AND FURTHER, that the government work with the Disabilities Council to propose the best way to actively move forward with a Disabilities Action Plan;

AND FURTHERMORE, that the government produce a response for consideration by the House by June of 2016.

Question 930-17(5): Housing First Programs October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The number of people without a warm, safe place to sleep in Yellowknife is indeed territory-wide and, two, growing daily. The housing crisis in the North is the number one social issue in the North.

Where are we at in implementing a Housing First program? So is the Minister willing to adopt the Housing First approach that addresses the need of our growing homeless population? What’s our plan for moving forward? Mahsi.

Question 930-17(5): Housing First Programs October 5th, 2015

I am calling for a cross- departmental response here and headed up by the Housing Corporation, although they are primarily capital approach, they certainly have a lot of housing programs. Housing First recognizes that the first step to helping homeless people out of poverty is to put a roof over their heads. Only then can the identifying problems that lead to homelessness be addressed effectively, sort of a step number two. In some areas civil society contributes to the caring of a family with a Housing First client to help provide social supports.

I’d like to ask the Minister, how is he working with Health and Social Services, with ECE, other relevant departments and the public towards a comprehensive solution through Housing First for our hard-to-house residents? Mahsi.

Question 930-17(5): Housing First Programs October 5th, 2015

Thanks for that response. The Minister anticipated my next question. The City of Yellowknife has indeed committed to the Housing First concept to try to alleviate the homeless situation here. A recent point in time count from the 150 Yellowknifers self-identified as homeless in May of 2015, that’s the spring.

So how exactly is the Minister working with the City of Yellowknife? The Minister noted he was. I appreciate that. How exactly is he working with the City of Yellowknife to help implement the Housing First program? Mahsi.

Question 930-17(5): Housing First Programs October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are also for Minister McLeod today. The recent reports from the YWCA in Yellowknife show that there are 64 families in emergency and transitional housing in the last fiscal year with more than 100 families on the waiting list, 50 women waiting to get into Lynn’s Place here in Yellowknife, 152 families on the waiting list to get into Yellowknife Housing Authority’s housing units. So these are obviously appalling numbers. Housing First programs are getting lots of kudos as a housing solution across North America.

I’m wondering: what is the Minister’s understanding of Housing First programs, their successes and their applicability here in the NWT. Mahsi.