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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

Question 30-16(2) G.N.W.T. Public Service Reductions February 8th, 2008

I’m glad to hear that. I'd still like to hear that job cuts will be a last resort and that this government will make every reasonable effort to find creative ways of reducing our spending — such as items mentioned yesterday about energy efficiency and those types of things — before job cuts.

On October 17 I asked the Premier “How will he work toward strengthening the public service and improving the morale of staff within the G.N.W.T.?” According to the unedited Hansard from October 17, the Premier indicated that “we must treat all employees — it doesn't matter at what level — with respect as an individual.” He went further to say:

“We need to talk to those at the front line to say what works for you in how you deliver your programs.”

Directly related to that, I'd like to see a commitment from the Premier to actually work with staff, get out to the staff and talk to the staff at the lower levels. They often have a lot of good ideas on how to reduce spending and streamline programs that would be a lot more effective and may not be presented to you at the higher levels.

I would like you, as Premier, to commit to getting out — not necessarily you — or getting your department out and talk to the staff and listen to the staff. They have a lot of good ideas; they’re the ones who deliver the programs. If you get to them and you get the information from them, they might be able to help you streamline and reduce costs without cutting their own jobs.

So a commitment from the Premier.

Question 30-16(2) G.N.W.T. Public Service Reductions February 8th, 2008

In my Member’s statement I talked about morale and the $135 million in budget reductions. Since the announcement has come out

from the Premier that there will be $135 million in reductions and staff cuts, we have all had staff come to us and ask us, “Is my job going to be gone tomorrow? Do I need to start looking for another job?” As indicated in my statement, I think cutting jobs is the last thing we should be doing. It should be the last course of action with respect to bringing our spending in line.

I'd like to ask the Premier to commit to work with staff and to assure them that if any job cuts do occur, they will be as a last resort, and that we as the government will make every reasonable effort to reduce our spending without cutting jobs.

Support For The Public Service February 8th, 2008

On several occasions since I was elected, I have gone on record talking about morale in the public service. The staff of the G.N.W.T. are

our most valuable resource. They’re the people who provide the essential services to all the residents in the Northwest Territories. Without a happy and motivated public service, we fail in the delivery of these essential services we are expected to deliver as a government.

Now, with this Premier’s announcement of $135 million in reductions over two years, there are waves of terror running through the public service. The continued reference from the Premier to job cuts does nothing but radically reduce already poor morale. It seems to me that focusing on job cuts is exactly the wrong way to pursue a course correction with respect to the government’s spending patterns.

Yesterday in the House we heard many suggestions on ways to improve our financial situation without cutting staff — things like reviewing and improving our energy use and consumption within the government itself, eliminating long-term non-essential vacant positions in headquarters where government departments use salary dollars for other purposes, and increasing co-operation between departments in order to reduce duplicate spending.

Once every reasonable effort has been made to reduce our overall spending through streamlining as well as creative and innovative thinking and planning, we may still be faced with some job cuts. These job cuts should be a last resort; they shouldn’t be the government’s first solution to our financial difficulties.

In 1996 the government made the mistake of implementing short-sighted job cuts with an intent to reduce spending. It failed. It did not result in a fundamental change in how the public service does business, which is what is truly required. In the end, people of the N.W.T. left, which affected the amount of money we received from the federal government. All the structural changes, such as the elimination of personnel and the consolidation of Renewable Resources and Economic Development and Tourism, have reversed themselves at a greater cost to the G.N.W.T.

Let’s not re-live the same mistakes. Let’s get it right. To this end, I encourage the Premier and his cabinet to engage staff, the public, as well as the 11 Members on this side of the House to find creative solutions which improve our financial situation without cutting public service jobs. We must support our most valuable resource: our dedicated and committed staff. They deserve better than the message they are currently receiving.

Mr. Speaker, later today I’ll be asking the Premier questions regarding staff and finding ways to reduce spending without destroying morale. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 21-16(2) Palliative Care Medication Benefits February 7th, 2008

Thank you to the Minister. It is important that there is a formulary that would set the parameters of which medications for pain management would be available. I think that in the reviews and in the research, and hopefully in this moving forward in the development of a palliative care benefits program, they talk with physicians and pharmacists in the N.W.T. who are dealing with these patients, who might be able to add a significant amount of valuable input.

So in your research and in your moving forward in this, I’d like the Minister’s commitment that they will involve pharmacists from across the N.W.T. as well as physicians.

Question 21-16(2) Palliative Care Medication Benefits February 7th, 2008

In my research on this issue I’ve talked to a number of pharmacists, and it’s clear to me, through discussions with them, that the majority of palliative patients are experiencing delays. They are submitting applications that have to go through the department before they get to Alberta Blue Cross. Alberta Blue Cross has a fairly quick and rapid turn-around time; there’s no question — within 24 hours. It’s getting it to them that’s taking a long time.

We need an expedited process for palliative patients in the Northwest Territories to ensure that they do not have to go out-of-pocket. And they are going out-of-pocket. And if they can’t afford to go out-of-pocket, then they go without until they’ve been approved by the G.N.W.T., the standard or Supplementary Health Benefits.

Once again, I’d like to ask the Minister to develop, or have the department develop, a comprehensive palliative care drug benefits program which includes a formula so that every time a medication is changed or a prescription is changed for the pain management of one of our residents who is

palliative, they don’t have to resubmit another application.

Question 21-16(2) Palliative Care Medication Benefits February 7th, 2008

In my Member’s statement today I talked about the lack of a palliative care drug benefits program in the Northwest Territories. Currently the G.N.W.T. does not have a palliative care program. Palliative patients are going through a significant amount of stress, given their condition, and the last thing they need is additional stress built

up on them as they have to deal with prescription medications and getting additional prescription medication from the pharmacy.

Our current process involves filling out an application, sending the application in. The application then goes down to Alberta Blue Cross which administers the Extended Health Benefits Program. Lots of delays; often you have to spend money up front.

My question to the Minister is: for the care and comfort of our residents who have been diagnosed as palliative, would you commit to developing, or having the Department of Health and Social Services develop, a comprehensive palliative care benefits program that has a comprehensive formula for pain management of palliative patients?

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery February 7th, 2008

I would like to recognize Lena Pedersen as well. She’s a resident of the Great Slave riding.

Palliative Care Benefits Program February 7th, 2008

It has recently come to my attention that the G.N.W.T. does not offer a palliative care benefits program for Northern residents who have been declared or diagnosed palliative by their physician. Palliative patients are those patients who have reached the end stages of a life-threatening disease or illness and require a variety of medications in order to maintain their comfort, and control pain during the last stages of their illness.

Currently, Northern residents who have been diagnosed as palliative may be covered through the

G.N.W.T.’s Extended Health Benefits Program. This is a good program and provides coverage for Northern residents for a wide variety of conditions, including palliative care patients.

Unfortunately, it is limited when it comes to palliative patients. Many of the medications palliative patients require for management of pain are not automatically benefits under the Extended Benefits program. These required medications can be added as a benefit for patients; however, the application process can be quite long. The net result is that palliative patients will either have to go without comfort management prescriptions until they receive approval from the Extended Health Benefits Program, or pay out of their own pockets until they can be reimbursed once their Extended Health application for the prescribed medication is approved.

This seems unreasonable. Palliative patients should not have to wait for the care that will allow them to live their remaining days in comfort and as they choose. Most southern jurisdictions already have the palliative care benefits programs which are expedited in order to reduce wait times for palliative patients. For example, Albertans are guaranteed a 16–24-hour turn-around time for approval, and they often provide them immediately.

Residents of the N.W.T. who have been diagnosed as palliative deserve more than the wait times they currently face. As a government we need to ensure that no additional barriers are placed on the care and comfort and pain management of these individuals during their last days. We need a palliative care benefits program.

Mr. Speaker, later this afternoon I’ll be asking the Minister Responsible for the Department of Health and Social Services questions concerning palliative care benefits programs for residents of the Northwest Territories.

Question 1-16(2) G.N.W.T. Public Service/ NWT Power Corporation Salaries And Bonuses February 6th, 2008

I have written questions here on the G.N.W.T. public service and the N.W.T. Power

Corp salaries and bonuses. My questions are for the Minister of Human Resources.

1) What is the average current salary of deputy

ministers in the G.N.W.T. public service?

2) What is the average current salary of senior

managers in the G.N.W.T. public service?

3) What is the total amount of bonuses paid to

deputy ministers, senior managers and excluded employees in each of the last three fiscal years?

4) What is the average current salary of senior

managers in the NWT Power Corporation?

5) What was the total amount of bonuses paid to

staff and senior managers of the NWT Power Corporation in the last three fiscal years?

Question 9-16(2) Deh Cho Bridge Project February 6th, 2008

Once again, to the Premier, it’s great that the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation is planning to do some of those information releases, but the government is still on the dime for this to a tune of $160 million. I think we have a responsibility as a government to share some of the information with the public, because they are asking us as well.

So once again, I’d like to get the Premier to commit to developing some sort of communications plan about our role in the bridge and the costs to the residents of the Northwest Territories and Yellowknife.