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Crucial Fact

Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2019, as MLA for Great Slave

Won his last election, in 2015, with 79% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Tabled Document 547-18(3): Follow-up Letter to Oral Question 786-18(3): Nursing Services in Tsiigehtchic Tabled Document 548-18(3): Follow-up Letter to Oral Question 787-18(3): New Services in Downtown Yellowknife August 23rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following two documents entitled "Follow-up Letter to Oral Question 786-18(3): Nursing Services in Tsiigehtchic"; and "Follow-up Letter to Oral Question 787-18(3): New Services in Downtown Yellowknife." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 23rd, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize three people in the gallery who have been who have been incredibly important to me over the last three years as both an MLA and as a Minister. First, I would like to recognize Cathy Olsen, who is not only a constituent of the Great Slave riding but has been one of the most amazing constituency assistants I have ever had. She has helped me keep my office in order and make sure that I am responding and working for the residents of the Great Slave riding on a daily basis.

I would also like to recognize from my ministerial office Ramie Ireland, who is, in my mind, probably the greatest executive assistant that I have ever had and has been a gem and an amazing person, has kept my office in order. As well as Susan Laramee, who has been a special advisor for me for the last four years. I often say she is the one who makes sure I make it where I need to be when I need to be and remember which speaking notes I am supposed to be talking from.

I would like to recognize these three amazing people in the gallery and thank them for all their incredibly hard work. I am going to miss them. I am going to miss seeing them every day. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, I am incredibly excited to be putting down my phone so I don't have to take calls 24 hours a day, and I will be able to spend some incredible, uninterrupted time with my beautiful wife, Carolyn, and my amazing 16-year-old son, John Russel Smith Abernethy. Thank you.

Return to Oral Question 822-18(3): Food Establishment Safety Regulations August 23rd, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I have a return to oral question asked by Mr. O'Reilly on August 16, 2019, regarding Food Establishment Safety Regulations.

The Food Establishment Safety Regulations were amended as part of the Department of Health and Social Services' efforts to advance the GNWT Agricultural Strategy and better support the sale of locally produced, low-risk foods, as well as to reflect current best practices and standards for food safety.

These amendments reflect engagement with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Environment and Natural Resources, and Lands, in order to support the NWT's emerging agricultural and food production sector. Feedback was also received from food establishment operators during routine work of the environmental health unit with permit holders, including active engagement with Yellowknife and Inuvik Farmers' Market operators. For example, the amendments address some of the concerns brought forward to the department earlier this year in Inuvik, around permitting, durations, and restrictions.

Supporting resources, such as an event coordinator forum, were also developed to assist emerging community market requirements. A version of this forum was piloted with the Yellowknife market prior to being finalized for implementation with these new regulations. These amendments are just one step in developing a comprehensive regulatory framework for safe agriculture and food production practices in the Northwest Territories.

Looking forward, the department had begun work on meat inspection regulations under the Public Health Act to provide the necessary regulatory framework for abattoirs and meat sales. As this work progresses, the department will participate in work to advance an overall regulatory framework for safe food production and sales in the Northwest Territories.

This work will be a partnership with ITI, ENR, and Lands in order to ensure that the regulatory framework addresses human health, animal health, environmental protection, as well as land use management. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 22nd, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Through the federal government, we have around $5 million available for vulnerable person-type shelters here in the Northwest Territories, in Yellowknife in particular. This would be an evolution from what we see at the day shelter, sobering shelter, today.

I have often made reference that we have this federal money coming. We are going to learn from the sobering centre, we are going to learn from the day shelter, but we are also going to learn from additional programs that people have been asking about, things like managed alcohol programs and other things. We don't have full design on the building yet. We are reviewing the different programs that are out there, but this will be a more permanent design purpose building to meet some of the challenges that we are facing in Yellowknife and Yellowknife's downtown core.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 22nd, 2019

A couple of different reasons; the long-term care facility is going to be significantly larger than the long-term care facility that we have today. We are moving to a 48-bed facility in that community in that region, so it is going to be significantly larger than the one that is there today. When you look at the footprints that are available to us in the community, if you look at a health centre and a long-term care facility on the land that is available to us, we can't get, I think, the whole footprint onto similar properties, which is the reality of the community and the property that is available to us now. Also, we are still having discussions on alternate methods to move forward with procurement of long-term care facility with partners and those types of things.

We also know that, the footprint of the old health centre in Simpson, there is no safety or facility concerns. The building is still able to meet the program requirements at this points, and we were worried about the construction of the facility previously, and those concerns have been alleviated. We have more time on that health centre than we thought we did originally, but we have a demand for long-term care beds to 2026. The two no longer align as nicely as we thought they did.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters August 22nd, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Chair. In this plan, you see a long-term care facility. That is a separate facility from the health centre. We have moved away from having a single building, with both, to separate buildings.

Question 847-18(3): Seniors' Home Care August 22nd, 2019

It won't be in the life of this government, and I would hate to presuppose what the priorities of the next Assembly are going to be. Unfortunately, as much as I would love to give the Member an answer saying, "This will happen on X date," I just can't do it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 847-18(3): Seniors' Home Care August 22nd, 2019

That is going to have to be a decision of the future Assembly and the future government. What I do know is that, through the transition document, there have been some suggestions on how we roll forward or, rather, the future government rolls forward with their budgeting process. I anticipate that this will be an area of discussion. We are hoping to have the information necessary so that there can be an informed discussion in run-up to that budget process.

Question 847-18(3): Seniors' Home Care August 22nd, 2019

We received an early draft in the middle of July, and it did raise a number of questions about some of the findings based on the data. Clearly it indicated that there were some difficulties getting some of the data. We had to confirm some of the data. We sent back some comments and some updates on the data to make sure that the contractor had accurate information in their assessments and in their provision of recommendations.

I have been told by the department earlier today that we will get that report at the end of August. We will make it available. It likely will not come to the existing MLAs in time for the election, but we will make it public, hopefully during the election period, so that everybody who is interested in coming into this building can have the data that they need to make informed decisions in the future.

Question 847-18(3): Seniors' Home Care August 22nd, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The intent of this study is to determine whether or not we have adequate resources in this area, including homecare workers, home support workers, homecare nurses, and other things to help support, not just seniors and people who are looking to age in place, but all people of the Northwest Territories who receive homecare services. It's not always seniors; there are many people that can receive those services. That is the intent: to give us an indication of where we are and whether we are adequately resourced to meet the needs of our residents.