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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 468-18(3): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 720-18(3): Environmental Assessment following Hay River Highrise Fire Tabled Document 469-18(3): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 721-18(3): Recruitment of Physicians in Hay River Tabled Document 470-18(3): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 722-18(3): Fort Providence Seniors' Facility Tabled Document 471-18(3): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 737-18(3): Mental Health Services for Youth Tabled Document 472-18(3): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 744-18(3): Foster Family Recognition Tabled Document 473-18(3): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 775-18(3): Mental Health and Addictions Plan August 12th, 2019

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following six documents entitled "Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 720-18(3): Environmental Assessment following Hay River Highrise Fire"; "Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 721-18(3): Recruitment of Physicians in Hay River"; "Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 722-18(3): Fort Providence Seniors' Facility"; "Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 737-18(3): Mental Health Services for Youth"; "Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 744-18(3): Foster Family Recognition"; and "Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 775-18(3): Mental Health and Addictions Plan." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 791-18(3): Cremation Regulations August 12th, 2019

The Member and I have been talking about this particular issue for four years. I would really love to say that they are going to happen, the regulations are going to happen, right away. We did issue drafting instructions in June to the Department of Justice, but, unfortunately, as the Member knows, the individuals who were working on those regulations are the same ones who are helping us move a number of pieces of legislation that are before us today and through the next two weeks through the House. As a result, they did not have the time or the resources to do the regulations immediately. They have indicated to us that they intend to make it a priority in August, after this sitting is done, and we are hoping that we can get these done as quickly as possible. I think it's safe to say that, with an election and everything else happening, we probably will not see the regulations until the end of the calendar year, but it will get done. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 791-18(3): Cremation Regulations August 12th, 2019

There is no territorial law or regulation prohibiting the practice of cremation in the Northwest Territories. The department and I did commit to developing regulations under the Public Health Act in 2019, and these will provide essentially greater support and certainty to providers who may wish to offer cremation services in the territories. Having said that, Mr. Speaker, the department is responsible for regulation of cremation that is limited to public health matters, such as handling the body and disposing of human waste materials. Other aspects of cremation actually fall under the mandates of other different GNWT departments, like Environment and Natural Resources is responsible for water use through the Land and Water Board licensing, and effluents such as sewage monitoring or emissions, which would be air regulations. Municipal and Community Affairs is responsible for areas related to municipal bylaws, and the municipality has some responsibility on licensing and allowing cremation in their individual communities. So it's a number of bodies. Health and Social Services is focused on the public health components, but we are working together with all of the partners to try to find a way to make this a reality as quickly as possible.

Question 791-18(3): Cremation Regulations August 12th, 2019

The document was posted on the Health and Social Services website, and it was also distributed to a number of stakeholders that included the Departments of Municipal and Community Affairs, Environment and Natural Resources, the City of Yellowknife, the Towns of Inuvik and Hay River, funeral providers or the individuals providing those services in each community, and the NWT Association of Communities. Comments, as I indicated, and input were accepted till May 31st, and, from that process, the department did receive two responses, both of which were positive.

Question 791-18(3): Cremation Regulations August 12th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Member indicated, we did release a discussion document on May 1st with an opportunity for feedback until the end of May. We did receive two submissions, and, based on that information, we have issued some drafting instructions for the regulations. In broad terms, and, I mean, I could spend a significant amount of time going into the detail, but I am not going to, but, in broad terms at this point, based on the feedback that we received, we feel that the regulations are going to be quite consistent with that key elements document that was released previously. I encourage anybody who wants the details to actually go online and read the document rather than having me quote the entire document verbatim, at length, which would take a significant amount of time, and I see we only have 28 minutes left. I am pretty sure I could take up the entire time.

Question 789-18(3): State of Health Care System in Hay River August 12th, 2019

We face challenges across the entire Northwest Territories. Recruitment and retention is a big challenge. When it comes to Hay River, I have had the opportunity to talk to a lot of different practitioners and nurses, both in Hay River and out of Hay River, and one of the things that I have heard from some individuals outside the community is that they would love to go to Hay River. They think it's a great community. It's in a beautiful spot, it's a 10-hour drive from Edmonton, it's a brand-new health centre, but they don't want to go there because they don't want to leave the public service.

Frankly, I think that one of the initiatives that the next government does have to undertake is to bring Hay River into the public service to improve that security, ensure that they are getting the best pension, and expand their ability to reach out to additional services in the Northwest Territories, to make sure that we have those economies of scale that Hay River doesn't always get to take advantage of. I really think that the next government is going to have to find a way to bring them in.

Question 789-18(3): State of Health Care System in Hay River August 12th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are aware of the concerns and the challenges facing the Hay River Health and Social Services authority. I agree with the Member that some systemic change is required in that authority. To that end, I know that the chief operating officer and the public administrator are looking at bringing about some change in that organization.

I have asked the deputy minister of Health and Social Services and the chair of the territorial Health and Social Services authority to go down and meet with them to talk about opportunities that we have to make some improvements in that authority, to improve the overall management, care, and delivery of health and social services in that community. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 787-18(3): New Services in Downtown Yellowknife August 12th, 2019

The responsibility in this area is not one department alone. It is not one body alone. It is a combination of many, many individuals and many organizations. I did raise this exact issue with the Minister of Justice earlier this summer when the Member raised it with me. I did receive an update from the RCMP that they have performed over 258 proactive patrols in the downtown core on foot, 139 proactive patrols in the day shelter area. This is between January and June of 2019. It has resulted in over 280 alcohol pours and/or seizures. We have this information by month, showing the amount of patrols and how it has increased significantly over the years. I will work with the Minister of Justice to see if I can get that data and share with the Members of this Legislative Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 787-18(3): New Services in Downtown Yellowknife August 12th, 2019

Since we put the sobering centre day shelter in its current location, we have had a lot of concerns raised. We have been working to improve those services to make sure that we have appropriate outreach. It is continuing to evolve. One of the things that we have done recently with our current provider is to put in place a day and sobering centre safety patrol.

These are individuals who walk around a set path around the neighbourhood. They wear identifiable clothing. They are trained in dealing with individuals in crisis, providing them with the information where they can get different supports, but also just being a person out on the street, talking to people, trying to encourage them to control behaviour and types of things that some people might have some difficulty with. It went live on July 22nd. I haven't received an update on progress or how it is working. I will follow up with the department to get the Member with a current update on how that program is going.

Question 787-18(3): New Services in Downtown Yellowknife August 12th, 2019

It is a negotiation. Some of the neighbours have put forward some principles or concepts that, obviously, some of the partners are having some difficulty with. We are committed to working with our partners to make this happen. Yes. There has been a negotiation. There is room to get this agreement in place.