Legislative Assembly photo



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

Question 841-18(3): Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan August 21st, 2019

The premise of Building Stronger Families is finding ways to support families so that children do not have to be apprehended. This could be as simple as providing diapers or food to an individual family who might be in crisis at a particular point. We have done a pilot in Behchoko where we actually covered individuals' rent for a couple of weeks when they were in crisis, because we believe that, if those individuals had been taken out of their homes, it would have also resulted in a direct apprehension. We are looking at spreading these concepts and these ideas out across the Northwest Territories to help families. We have also been able to send families' parents out for treatment and to provide short-term placement for kids with family so that they maintain that family relationship.

There are many more things we could do. Many of them will be one-offs because every situation is different, and we need to be flexible enough to do that. Our social workers are receiving more and more voluntary applications, more people coming in on a voluntary basis. I think this is a good thing because, when they come in on a voluntary basis, we can develop a case plan that works for them and is individualized to their needs and allows those children to stay in those families and in those homes. Our caseload is up, Mr. Speaker, but the number of people going into permanent care is down, and I think that is indicative that the concepts work. We failed at reporting. We failed at some of the things that we were trying to do. We have taken from this committee, from this Auditor General, the lessons that we needed, and we are making improvements today.

Question 841-18(3): Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan August 21st, 2019

When we came forward with Building Stronger Families, we were hoping to change from an apprehension-based system to a prevention-based system. Building Stronger Families is still the right way to go, but what we realized and what we heard from the Auditor General is we did not have enough feet on the street to make this a reality, and we were overburdening a number of our people, and, as a result, they were not doing the record-keeping that was necessary to ensure that we were monitoring its success and/or failures. We have increased the number of positions in the last budget by 21.

As I said, a third of those will be focused on training and policy development and making sure the program is right, but the rest are front-line delivery. There is a second ask for future years, Mr. Speaker, that we invest in more positions, with a greater focus on things like family advocates or family support workers. We believe that this is an important step and it's a necessary step to provide those families with the supports they need so that they can keep their children with them, so we are no longer taking children from families. That will be a decision of the next government. I think it is an incredibly important decision, and I hope the next government continues to maintain a focus on child and family services and that that does occur.

Question 841-18(3): Child and Family Services Quality Improvement Plan August 21st, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In coming up with the quality improvement plan, we did actually have more actions that we would like to have pursued, but we did reach out to our staff. We did reach out to stakeholders who indicated that some of them would be very difficult, given that it is a two-year plan. As a result, we did reduce the number of actions. We modified some timelines. We stretched this out over two years. Many of these actions are policy-based. We are modifying our policies to be consistent and current, and we feel at this time that the plan we have is doable within the two-year time limit.

I want to point out that we do see this as a living document, and as we move forward with those actions in that action plan, we recognize that we may find that we may have overreached, or we may not have the capacity to do that within the timeline. We have left the ability to be flexible, to modify our timelines. We also recognize that, at the end of this plan in two years, we will have to reassess where we are and set a new plan forward to bring in the rest of the changes that are needed to make our Child and Family Services system a truly prevention-based system as opposed to the traditional apprehension-based system. There are a lot of things happening. I agree with the Member. I do recognize there is pressure on the staff, but we have also increased the number of positions, 21 new positions as a result of this quality improvement plan, and a third of those positions are focused on design and training to make sure that our frontline staff have the resources they need and have the supports they need to transition their practice from apprehension to prevention. So there are a lot of things happening. We get it. We have got great people. We have listened to them. We removed some actions, and we stretched out timelines on others. It is a living document. We are optimistic we can get this done.

Question 839-18(3): Access to Health Services in Fort Nelson, BC August 21st, 2019

I don't know who the next Minister of Health and Social Services will be, but I do know the work we are doing to support Liard and Nahanni Butte is incredibly important work and is consistent with the mandate of the Department of Health and Social Services, which is to provide care as close to home as possible and to make sure our residents are receiving access to the best care possible. I believe our work with Fort Nelson is consistent with that. I am optimistic and hopeful that the next Minister will continue to see the value that this relationship will bring, and that he or she will continue that relationship.

Question 839-18(3): Access to Health Services in Fort Nelson, BC August 21st, 2019

Given that the MoU hasn't been completed yet, the standard operating procedures that we have negotiated with Fort Liard actually give us a roadmap, if you will, that the residents of Fort Liard and Nahanni Butte can use. As these procedures unfold, a more formalized MoU between BC and the Northwest Territories can be developed, but we want to see how these procedures work to make sure they're actually doing things that actually provide benefit that will help inform the MoU. That work will continue. It likely will not occur in the life of this government, the last week that we have, but it will carry on into the next government.

Question 839-18(3): Access to Health Services in Fort Nelson, BC August 21st, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The territorial authority has been working with the healthcare services in Fort Nelson to develop an agreement on how people from Fort Liard, as well as Nahanni Butte, will receive services in Fort Nelson.

Unfortunately, the MOU hasn't been completed at this time, but we are working on it. The agreement will define the process for how NWT residents are referred to health services in Fort Nelson and how they can actually be referred back to the health and social services system here in the Northwest Territories.

Senior staff from the authority in the Deh Cho region will be travelling to Fort Liard in the next few weeks to share a review of the standard operating procedures with the community health centre staff. This really, Mr. Speaker, is the necessary first step which provides access to services in BC.

In addition, our handouts and posters and brochures have actually been prepared and have been shared with community leaders and residents to make them aware of these procedures, for accessing these procedures in Fort Nelson. We are hoping that these will be distributed at that time when they're meeting which will, hopefully, be September of this year.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 21st, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to recognize the executive director from the Seniors' Society of the Northwest Territories, who helped us with the seniors' report that I will be tabling later today, Ms. Suzette Montreuil. Welcome.

Minister's Statement 238-18(3): Seniors Report August 21st, 2019

Mr. Speaker, seniors and elders hold a unique place throughout our territory. They are our mentors, they are caregivers, and the wealth of knowledge and wisdom that they provide is beneficial to all Northwest Territories' residents. Seniors and elders are also the fastest-growing population in the Northwest Territories, and there is a need to understand how our government programs and services are supporting them now, as well as into the future.

As outlined in the priorities of the 18th Legislative Assembly, our government committed to taking action so that seniors in the NWT can age in place. We are dedicated to supporting our seniors and elders so that they can live in their homes for as long as possible, surrounded by family and community. Ensuring that appropriate supports, programs, and services are available is essential to the fulfillment of this commitment.

The development of the Continuing Care Services Action Plan is one of the ways that the Department of Health and Social Services is taking action on this commitment. The successful implementation of this plan requires strong partnerships and integration across all regions of the territory. We are collaborating with partners across all health authorities and GNWT Departments, as well as local community governments and non-government organizations to make it happen.

For example, our partnership with the NWT Housing Corporation has found new space for adult day programming in four new independent housing complexes for seniors and elders in small communities. This dedicated space makes it possible for regional health centres to partner with communities to offer socialization and other supports to help seniors and elders to remain in their communities longer.

The department has also collaborated with the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority, and the Tlicho Community Services Agency to design and develop the Paid Family/Caregiver Pilot Program. Initial implementation of the pilot begins this October and involves engaging with interested parties in select communities.

Mr. Speaker, it is projected that seniors and elders will make up over 20 percent of our territory's population by 2035. The time is now for the GNWT and its partners to better understand what challenges and opportunities exist when it comes to supporting these valued members of our communities. That is why, in November 2017, I committed to working with the NWT Seniors' Society to identify how seniors and elders in our territory access 16 different programs and services available to them, which are broken down into the following categories: health and wellness; housing; income assistance; law and victim services; and community services.

As a result, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to release the Report on Seniors' Access to Programs and Services, which was developed in partnership with the NWT Seniors' Society. This report provides an important snapshot of the senior and elder population in the Northwest Territories and outlines how they accessed government programs and services in 2017-2018. With this information, the GNWT and its partners are better able to understand what challenges and opportunities exist when it comes to supporting the fastest-growing demographic in the Northwest Territories.

This report was truly an all-of-government initiative and its development was led by the Departments of Finance and Executive and Indigenous Affairs, with contributions from: the Department of Health and Social Services; the Department of Education, Culture and Employment; the Department of Justice; the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs; and the NWT Housing Corporation.

The report has shown that the Government of the Northwest Territories generally offers the same types of programs found in other jurisdictions and, in some cases, provides additional supports and programs which reflect the unique geographic, cultural, and regional characteristics of NWT seniors and elders. With this information, the GNWT is better able to identify gaps in support and inform future planning for program and service delivery to seniors.

In considering how the report's findings can be used to enhance program effectiveness and ensure that all NWT residents have equitable access to supports in their communities, we will also draw from a new interRAI Clinical Information System to help identify regional trends.

InterRAI is an internationally recognized, evidence-based assessment system that is widely used in healthcare sectors throughout Canada, and is part of our Continuing Care and Services Action Plan. The interRAI homecare and long-term care assessment tools are user-friendly, person-centered, and standardized to provide comprehensive data and information that guide provision of care according an individual's needs.

Mr. Speaker, we are in the process of implementing the interRAI system across the Northwest Territories health and social services system. InterRAI will provide case managers, homecare professionals, and long-term care facilities with:

  • identification, prevention, and management of emerging and potential resident or client risks;
  • access to assessment information;
  • outcome measures to improve quality care;
  • enhanced data quality with the use of a standardized data set;
  • information to report on continuing care quality indicators; and
  • reliable data for monitoring quality of care and evaluation of residents.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has been making investments and taking action to help our aging population remain in their communities for as long as possible. We also understand the importance of fostering cooperation and partnerships between our government and non-governmental organizations to achieve our goal of providing the best care and best health for a better future.

For example, we are working collaboratively with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, the NWT Seniors' Society, and the NWT Recreation and Parks Association to engage seniors and elders at the community level and encourage them to stay active. We have also partnered with NWT Recreation and Parks to support the Functional Fitness for Falls certification program to decrease the number of falls and ensure safer care environments for our seniors and elders. Additionally, we are supporting and encouraging the use of the NWT Association of Communities' Built Environment Guide and Healthy Communities Toolkit.

Part of our ongoing commitment to NWT seniors and elders is to support public awareness about senior and elder abuse. We are continuing work with the NWT Seniors' Society and with the health authorities to develop elder abuse screening tools and protocols for intervention, as well as support.

Seniors and elders are important contributors to the health and well-being of our communities, and it is important that we work together to better understand how we can support them to live active, healthy lives for as long as possible in their home communities. The Seniors' Report provides our government with a holistic perspective on the programs and services that we offer, and I would like to extend a sincere thank you to the NWT Seniors' Society for their enormous contributions to its creation. It is my hope that we will continue to work together on future initiatives to improve access to supports for our seniors and elders. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Committee Motion 236-18(3): Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act - Amend subclause 116, Carried August 21st, 2019

Just for clarity, Mr. Chair, the motion is intended to ensure that, regardless of whether the Public Land Act or the Mineral Resources Act comes into force first, the enabling authority for the mining regulations in the Northwest Territories Land Act or the Public Land Act over mineral rights will be repealed from the appropriate statutes once the Mineral Resources Act comes into force. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 236-18(3): Bill 34: Mineral Resources Act - Amend subclause 116, Carried August 21st, 2019

Thank you, Chair. I move clause 116 and the heading immediately preceding clause 116 of Bill 34 be deleted and the following substituted:

116(1) The Public Land Act introduced in the 3rd session of the 18th Legislative Assembly as Bill 46 is amended by this section.

(2) The following provisions are repealed:

(a) section 6;

(b) paragraph 6.1(b);

(c) paragraph 52.1(1)(c); and

(d) paragraph 61(c) and (d)

(3) paragraphs 12.1(b) is amended by striking out "or six and commencement."

117(1) Subject to subsections 2 and 3, this act or any provisions of this act comes into force on the day or days to be fixed by order of the Commissioner.

(2) Section 115 come into force on the day that section 18 comes into force unless, before that day, the Northwest Territories Land Act has been repealed by subsection 79(2) of the Public Land Act introduced in the 3rd session of the 18th Legislative Assembly as Bill 46(3). Section 116 comes into force on the later of the day that section 18 comes into force, or section of the Public Land Act introduced in the 3rd Session of the 18th Legislative Assembly as Bill 46 comes into force. Thank you, Mr. Chair.