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Roles

Elsewhere

Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2007, as MLA for Frame Lake

Won his last election, in 2003, with 63% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Committee Motion 11-15(6): Addition Of $3.05 Million For Gameti School, Carried August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I move that $3.050 million be added to the activity education and culture under the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, capital investment expenditures, not previously authorized on page 14 for the purpose of constructing additional classrooms and adding a gymnasium to the Jean Wetrade Gameti School.

---Applause

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

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I think Mr. Roland has pretty adequately answered the question. The review in 2005, though, did determine that much of the functionality of PeopleSoft or the program had either been turned off or hidden and the recommendation was that when we got to a system that was not customized and could turn those on, it would make the system much more functional for us. As Mr. Roland has already noted, the big problem has been in trying to convert the data from a program where the program itself was modified in such a way that the new version of the program doesn't recognize the information coming forward in most cases.

Question 154-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. At this point, the policies between the public housing rental subsidy and the Income Support Program aren't the same. When ECE was given responsibility for public housing, the promise was that no changes would be made to those policies. If the intent of this policy is one to encourage attendance at school and continuation in education, there may be some grounds for us to take a look at whether or not we should adopt a similar policy under the Income Support Program. So that is something that, perhaps in this case, something that we can learn from the way the program was run in the Housing Corporation. Thank you.

Question 154-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm not sure what reason the previous governments had for deciding that some money should be exempt from consideration. Under the new policy with income support starting on September 1st, clients will be able to exempt $1,200 a year in unearned income, which means that going forward, whether it's an IBA payment or Inuvialuit Final Agreement payment, that sort of money the family can choose to exempt from consideration should they wish. But the limit will be $1,200 a year.

Question 154-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The government's policy is not to exclude payments like IBAs.

Treaty payments are exempt from consideration from family income.

Question 154-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's my understanding that it's a matter of policy and not constitutional protection that has exempted some payments from consideration under the Income Support Program. So every government of Canada can make their own decisions about what is exempt and what isn't exempt for consideration when deciding whether or not to provide income support.

Question 150-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As things stand right now, the program is governed by regulations. Those regulations change on September 1st. So the rules may change then, but I can't arbitrarily change them today. There is no flexibility built into the program that allows a Minister to do that under our current legislation and regulations. As of September 1st, there may be a different method of looking at this program. In advance of that, there is no reason that ECE, Health and Social Services and the Housing Corporation can't be working together to ensure that all that is possibly available to a family in need is provided. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 150-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are always prepared to look at cases of families in the Northwest Territories. As I said, beginning September 1st, we are hoping to be able to improve the services and the supports we provide to families in the North. In fact, we know we are going to improve the supports that we provide to families in the North.

We also need to make sure that we have all of the helping agencies at the table. We need to make sure that we have Education, Culture and Employment, Health and Social Services, and the Housing Corporation. Mr. Speaker, I can make sure that all three agencies are involved and looking at what is possible given our current rules. Thank you.

Question 150-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is just a point of clarification. The current rules of the program don't allow for a $1,200 exemption. The beginning of September the 1st, up to $1,200 or $1,200 of unearned income can be exempted by a family. That is in addition to the $400 per family plus 15 percent of all earnings above that that can be exempt from the program. So the program is changing significantly from a program of simply last resort to one that is intended to better support people. But any program like this where government subsidies are given out is a balance between affordability and what people need. So the government has had to set some limits on what supports are available. We are quite confident, though, Mr. Speaker, that in any case we are providing adequate supports for families in the Northwest Territories.

Question 150-15(6): Income Support Policy Application August 20th, 2007

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Income Support Program being delivered by Education, Culture and Employment, it is probably more appropriate that I respond to questions around that program. Mr. Speaker, apparently the Income Assistance Program is one of last resort. In this program, the way it is set up right now, clients are expected to use up all of their assets and all of their resources before any supports are provided. I have recently announced, though, that there are some changes beginning on September 1st with the program which will allow clients to keep an increased level of assets going up to $50,000 from the current limit of $5,000 and you have a program that is going to provide increased supports. There is going to be a somewhat more flexible program.

With a case managed approach where ECE workers work with Health and Social Services staff as well as Housing staff, we are hoping that we are going to be able to find ways to more effectively deal with unique circumstances that families may find themselves in. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.