- His favourite word was services.
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 60-16(2) Procedure For Acquiring Government Identification February 13th, 2008
My question could be directed to any of the ministers with services directly to the public, but I'm going to focus them on the Minister of Transportation, given that my Member’s statement made specific reference to them.
I understand the value of policies and procedures. I understand why we have certain opening times such as 9 a.m. But I would suggest, in situations where weather is extreme, that it might be reasonable to open the doors and allow the people into the lobby. Policies are not written that way, and they do not allow that.
I'd like to encourage the Minister of Transportation to review the policies on when doors are opened, to ensure that people aren't standing outside in the bitter cold.
G.W.N.T. Client Service Policy And Customer Relations February 13th, 2008
As a government we need policies and procedures to ensure the consistent delivery of services. However, we need to remember the human element and allow for flexibility. We need to empower employees and allow them some level of latitude so they can use common sense in providing services to clients. We need to be less bureaucratic and more human.
At the appropriate time I will be asking the Minister Responsible for the Department of Transportation questions concerning customer relations within DOT.
G.W.N.T. Client Service Policy And Customer Relations February 13th, 2008
I continually hear departments in this government talking about providing quality customer service to clients of the G.N.W.T. This includes both internal and external clients. I believe that the vast majority of employees within the G.N.W.T. strive to deliver high quality and timely services to their respective clients. Unfortunately, sometimes this doesn’t happen. Often when an employee fails to provide high quality and timely service to a client, it has less to do with the employee’s willingness or desire to help; rather, it is due to strict or rigid guidelines or operational procedures put in place by the bureaucracy and a fear of retribution if the employee were to take some additional steps outside the policy or procedure to assist their clients.
Recently an example of this came to my attention. The specifics deal with the Department of Transportation, but it could easily relate to any department within the G.N.W.T.
A constituent of mine needed to obtain picture ID for her grandson. She went to Motor Vehicles. It was minus 37 degrees Celsius outside. She arrived ten minutes before the opening hour of 9 a.m. and found a lineup in place outside the door of people waiting to get in.
Now, although the office doesn’t open until nine, it would have been reasonable to make an exception on that day when the temperatures were so extreme. I’m not suggesting that staff should have opened their desks and begun serving those clients until 9 a.m., but they could have let them into the lobby so they weren’t outside freezing. When questioned by the constituent, they were informed the policy does not permit staff to open the office early. Where’s the logic? In extreme weather situations, opening the door would have made good sense.
Once inside, my constituent was asked to provide identification confirming her identity to prove who she was in order to support her grandson getting his picture ID. She produced her fancy new driver’s licence, which she had obtained from the Department of Transportation a few months prior — the one with a nice new hologram. She was
informed that due to policy, they were not able to accept it as a valid piece of ID and that she would need to provide another form of ID and a copy of her power bill to prove that she was a resident of Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories — exactly the same items she had produced when she got her fancy new driver’s licence just a couple of months prior.
I’m sure the employee would have liked to accept the driver’s licence. The employee was probably as frustrated as the client. However, policy would not allow her to use her own judgment and accept the current driver’s licence. This is ridiculous.
Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.
Unanimous consent granted.
In 1998, when the Games were last here, we had similar policies in place and the government’s decision at that time was, “Let the staff have the two hours.” I'm wondering why, several years later, we now look at the same or very similar policies and we're rigidly applying them. We are not seeing the value in having our staff work on the Games. We are not seeing the value in giving them the time they need without taking credit away from them. We're saying, “Yeah, do it, it’s great, but you have to use your own time,” whereas in the past, we've stood up for employees and given them the time they need to support this valuable community and Territorial event.
I happily acknowledge that the government is doing a lot for the Arctic Winter Games and that the commitments they’ve made are good commitments, but I come back to that two-hour block. You’re asking people to take lieu and you’re asking people to take annual. This volunteering is good for the community; it’s good for the public service. In fact, it can almost be viewed as a public service.
You talked about the fact that they’ve already got the 2,500 volunteers. Yes, but now they’re trying to schedule them. It’s proving to be quite difficult as people don’t want to work certain blocks because they can’t afford to take lieu and they can’t afford to take annual.
By allowing people up to two hours, which is, say, the equivalent that you’ve given casual time if they had a doctor’s appointment, you would be supporting the Games to a greater extent. You’d be showing the government’s commitment.
I didn’t hear any sort of reference in your response as to whether you would review the decision, rescind the decision and allow our employees a two-hour maximum. If they want to work longer, I
could see lieu and annual. But I’m talking about a two-hour block at either the beginning of the day or the end of the day where Arctic Winter Games is having trouble filling schedules that G.N.W.T. employees would happily fill if they didn’t have to liquidate their own time.
Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Human Resources and are related to the Arctic Winter Games and the volunteers, G.N.W.T. staff in particular.
The question is very specific to a two-hour block — two hours maximum per day — where individuals would be allowed to volunteer without penalty against their lieu time or annual leave. So where operational requirements permit and where a G.N.W.T. staff is registered as a volunteer and is either scheduled from a 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. shift or a 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. shift, the government has said no. Basically, if you need that two hours at the beginning of the day or at the end of the day, you have to use lieu or annual.
It seems a bit short-sighted to me. It seems like we actually are creating a lot more work through entry
into PeopleSoft — through entry or verification and approval in PeopleSoft. It would be better if the people who met those conditions, if we were just to say, “Yeah, you can take that time where operational requirements permit.” Unfortunately the answer was no.
Is there any way I can get the Minister to review and reverse that decision in order to reduce the paperwork, support our staff and support the Arctic Winter Games?
Participation Of G.N.W.T. Staff Volunteers At The 2008 Arctic Winter Games February 12th, 2008
Mr. Speaker, the 2008 Arctic Winter Games are rapidly approaching. We have roughly three weeks before athletes begin to
descend upon Yellowknife and the N.W.T. By all accounts these games are going to be huge and will be good for the city of Yellowknife and the N.W.T. as a whole.
To make these games a success, it’s going to take a significant amount of time and effort from all parties: the Arctic Winter Games staff, the city of Yellowknife, the G.N.W.T., the many sponsors and, most importantly, the volunteers. In fact, to run the games approximately 2,500 volunteers will be required.
To ensure that the games are a success, the Arctic Winter Games has requested that the government allow G.N.W.T. staff — about 60 people in key roles — time off for the week of the games. In addition, they requested that additional staff registered as volunteers with the games office be allowed to leave at 3 p.m. without penalty when they are scheduled as a volunteer for 4 p.m. I would like to applaud the government for allowing the 60 volunteers in key roles up to eight working days per year to participate. This goes a long way in helping deliver a successful games.
Unfortunately, the Department of Human Resources has declined the second request. The department has indicated that any additional G.N.W.T. volunteers must liquidate annual leave or lieu time if they wish to participate. This limits the number of volunteers as well as complicates scheduling. This direction is directly contrary to the decision made in 1998 when the games were last held in Yellowknife. At that time staff were allowed to leave at 3 p.m. when scheduled to do a voluntary duty at 4 p.m., without affecting their personal leave credits.
This year’s rigid and short-sighted application of their policies is not in the best interest of the G.N.W.T. staff or the games as a whole. Supporting dedicated staff who are willing to contribute their time is in the best interests of the community and of the North and is worth the investment. Let’s work with staff and the Arctic Winter Games to ensure that the games run smoothly and are representative of the N.W.T. and those of us who are proud to call it our home. Let’s reduce the paperwork, let’s support our staff, and let’s support the games.
Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time I’ll be asking the Minister of Human Resources questions concerning their rigid application of the policy.
Minister’s Statement 1-16(2) Sessional Statement February 11th, 2008
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to sort of identify one thing that I thought I was missing. I agree with pretty much everything that Bob and Dave have been saying. I thought the statement was good.
But to me, in listening to it and reading through it again, the one thing that was missing to me was reference and/or conversation around the voluntary sector. You’ve heard me talking about it before; you’ll hear me talking about it again. The voluntary sector, in my opinion, is clearly one area where we can add a significant amount of value to the residents of the Northwest Territories. It was discussed during our strategic planning session. It is part of our strategic plan. But there was limited
reference to it in the sessional statement and the value that it can add to the health and wellness of communities.
Overall I liked what he had to say. I agree with much of it. I do agree with Mr. Bromley’s points as well as Mr. Ramsay’s points, but I did feel that there could have been a lot more talk, or at least some talk — you know, a little bit more substance — around the support to the voluntary sector.
Question 44-16(2) Hybrid Vehicle Rebate February 11th, 2008
My questions today are directed to the Minister Responsible for Environment and Natural Resources.
As discussed in my Member’s statement, I was talking about the Energy Efficiency Incentive Program, with specific reference to the rebate available for hybrid vehicles.
In my opinion, the intent is good. The intent of the program is to help residents reduce their energy costs and, at the same time, reduce greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, it’s a new program, and there are some limitations. It does limit our residents’ choices. In order to get the rebate, they have to buy a vehicle that's available through a Northern vendor. This eliminates a lot of very efficient vehicles that fall within the intent.
I'd like the Minister to commit to reviewing this program and removing the limitations placed in the program on individual choice.
Hybrid Vehicle Rebate February 11th, 2008
I recently received a list of concerns from a constituent on the Energy Efficiency Incentive Program with a specific focus on the rebates available for hybrid vehicles. In principle, the program delivered by the energy alliance on behalf of the G.N.W.T. is a really good program.
The primary intent of the program is to help residents of the N.W.T. reduce their energy costs; however, with any new program there are some hurdles that become obvious during its implementation. In the case of this program, one of the difficulties, in my opinion, is that it limits choice. For example, the program is limited to vehicles that can be purchased in the N.W.T. only. This means that any vehicle that meets the criteria for rebate but isn’t supplied by a local dealer won’t be covered.
Now, I understand the importance and value of buying North. For maintenance and servicing purposes, I personally would choose to buy a vehicle from a Northern vendor. This is not the same for everyone. Some people have preference based on brand. Some people would prefer to buy a Honda, a Nissan, a Volkswagen or even a Smart Car. If they did, they would be ineligible for the rebate.
To me, this seems to go against the primary intent of the rebate program, which is to help residents of the N.W.T. reduce their energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
I believe the program should be reviewed so that the primary intent is met. This can be done by removing the restrictions on providing the rebate for Northern residents who choose to buy vehicles that are not available through local N.W.T. vendors: the Nissan, the Volkswagen, the Hondas and Smart cars. However, there is value in supporting local Northern business. To address this, the program could be modified to require that an eligible vehicle available through a Northern vendor must be purchased in the North in order for the purchaser to receive the rebate.
These changes would allow our residents the choice they desire and still encourage them to buy products which help them reduce greenhouse gas
emissions and reduce their energy costs. This is good for everyone.
At the appropriate time I will be asking the Minister Responsible for Environment and Natural Resources questions concerning the Energy Efficiency Incentive Program.
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