Last in the Legislative Assembly September 1995, as MLA for Nunakput
Won her last election, in 1991, by acclaimation.
Statements in the House
Question O16-12(1): GNWT Approval Of Gwich'in Final Agreement December 10th, 1991
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the question under advisement and answer it tomorrow.
Question O13-12(1): Funding For Chiefs' Salaries December 10th, 1991
Mr. Speaker, I had a meeting with Bill Erasmus after the meeting that took place in Fort Rae. I asked Mr. Erasmus to come with a proposal, and I am waiting to receive that so we can consider it. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker, the suggestion for turning the POL over and incorporating it with the Power Corporation has been on the books for a number of years. The former standing committee on finance had made that recommendation. We are now conducting the strategy on how that is going to be incorporated.
Mr. Speaker, I think I mentioned before that we are putting together an implementation process which is almost complete and will be presented to the ordinary Members to ensure the involvement of all MLAs.
Motion To Move Ministers' Statement 5-12(1): To Committee Of The Whole, Carried December 10th, 1991
Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention to the House that Mr. John Ningark will not be attending the session today because of a family illness. He asked me to express his apologies.
Mr. Speaker, I give notice that on Wednesday, December 11, 1991, I shall move the following motion: I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Hay River, that Tabled Document 3-12(1), "Strength at Two Levels-Report of the Project to Review the Operations and Structure of Northern Government," and Appendices, be moved into committee of the whole for discussion. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to apologize, but you slipped by me on notices of motions. I would like to seek unanimous consent to go back to motions.
Item 11: Tabling Of Documents December 9th, 1991
Mr. Speaker, I wish to table Tabled Document 3-12(1), "Strength at Two Levels-Report of the Project to Review the Operations and Structures of Northern Government" and Appendices, November 1991.
Mr. Speaker, I would have to take that under notice. I did not quite understand the question, because I know when the statement was made, it was made by Mr. Don Morin as an MLA. Now in terms of the direct question, I would like to take that under notice and study the document he refers to and come back and make a more definitive statement. Thank you.
Ministers' Statement 2-12(1): Living Within Our Means December 9th, 1991
Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislative Assembly. All of us are aware of the challenges facing government and residents of the Northwest Territories. We know the job that has to be done, and we all know that we must find a new and better way of doing things to avoid and correct the problems of the past and to build the kind of future all of us want.
Cabinet is determined to begin this process by reshaping the way government does business at both the community and territorial levels. We want all residents of the Northwest Territories to join us in building a uniquely northern-style government: We have to catch up with and recognize community ambitions and the way people at the local level want to get things done; decisions must be made about how we deal with institutions that will result from land claims, as well as accommodating the rights of aboriginal people; we must refine and reshape government operations so that they deliver the best possible service at the most reasonable cost; and we have to lead by example and develop a renewed spirit of partnership.
Mr. Speaker, the problems we encounter do not belong to any one individual or organization. They are shared by all of us. Leadership, teamwork, dedication, and a common purpose are necessary both inside and outside government. Everyone is going to have to work together in order to make progress.
Our budget situation means that tough financial, operational and organizational decisions have to be made right now at both the territorial and community levels. The decisions will not be easy and they will require a great deal of public input, understanding and support. Both government and public expectations will have to decrease. Decisions of cabinet and the Legislature must be based on living within our means.
Decisions on paying for the cost of government and the reshaping of its operation and structures must also reflect a determination to avoid the staggering debt loads faced by other jurisdictions. If we cannot pay for it, we had better not buy it.
Financially, we are in a difficult position, but we do not have to stay there. Finance Minister John Pollard will speak to you later about our financial position and our need to work together to return to a balanced budget.
Part of the answer is found in the report "Strength at Two Levels", which recommends fundamental changes to the manner in which government does business in the North.
In my discussions with Members of the Legislature, I know that many of you have already started talking to constituents about the report. Its observations make good sense, and we intend to move quickly and deliberately in our review and implementation of many of its recommendations. But since that project examined only a limited part of the total government, our challenge will be to expand the field of change to all areas. No issue is more important in this regard than community self-government. Government must recognize the local way of getting things done, and that means changing the way programs and services are delivered.
Mr. Speaker, all of us want to encourage greater community self-sufficiency, with strong community governments making their own decisions on behalf of the people who elected them. We want to see community ownership of programs and services. We want to see programs and services delivered in a way that reflects the unique conditions of each community, controlled by local people who know the community and who can set their own funding priorities.
The newly organized Ministry of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs will take the lead role in this area over the coming months. It will be developing approaches and arrangements designed to provide for local control and to set the stage for increased social and economic self-sufficiency at the community level.
Transfers to community governments could include block or multi-year funding. Increased local responsibilities may include responsibility for building houses, building and maintaining local public works, administration of social services, dealing with drug and alcohol problems and education of the young.
The package eventually transferred to each community will differ just as the communities themselves differ. Each agreement will have to be tailored to the unique circumstances of individual communities. The variety of culture, aspirations and interest among communities will mean that there can be no single model, and that will make the job extremely complex.
As Members of the Legislative Assembly, we must consult with our constituents on these important matters and be prepared to discuss their implementation during our budget session. It is time to get things done and we all recognize that fact.
We have already begun to organize ourselves and set priorities for the restructuring of government. We are taking the steps that are necessary to consolidate the Department of Health and the Department of Social Services into one department in order to improve co-ordination and efficiency in responding to the health and social service needs of northern residents.
It will be necessary to move all programs dealing with education, employment and culture into one department. This will provide a renewed emphasis on the important linkage between education, employment and culture.
The responsibility for the POL, petroleum, oils and lubricants program, will be moved under the NWT Power Corporation in order to gain greater efficiencies in the delivery of petroleum products and their use. The remaining programs and services within Government Services will be consolidated under the Department of Public Works. These initiatives will begin to be reflected in the 1992-93 budget.
We will be discussing them with Members and recommending a comprehensive strategic plan to the Legislature, including an implementation process and timetable for the streamlining of government as well as other initiatives to improve services and program delivery. The plan will be worked out with the involvement of the various committees of the Legislature and will be brought forward at our next session.
Mr. Speaker, all of us are elected to conduct our business in the most efficient, effective and open manner possible. That is what the public wants and that is what the public deserves. That is what the government is committed to delivering.
Our strategy, Mr. Speaker, will include methods of dealing with changes in a way that treats the public service fairly and with respect; that takes advantage of vacant positions and trains staff for new employment opportunities; and that involves new partnerships and levels of communication between the government, Members of the Legislature, interested parties, business and union representatives.
Mr. Speaker, the report, "Strength at Two Levels," provides us with a focus. We have talked about the kinds of things it recommends on many occasions over the years. Now it is time for us to get into action.
Staff at all levels of the organization will have an important role to play in our determination to make the changes that are necessary to streamline the operation of government and to make it more user-friendly and relevant to the people it serves. My message to the public service is simple: We need your skills to get this job done.
Mr. Speaker, co-operation and openness will be extended to all areas of our work. For instance, we know and understand the need for a more receptive government. As a result, we will be providing you with a comprehensive proposal during our second session that deals with the question of access to information.
We are also prepared to give our immediate attention to recommendations of the standing committee on legislation concerning any improvements in the way government drafts, considers and presents legislation and regulations. This is in particular in respect to increased levels of public input.
Later this week the Minister of Safety and Public Services will be making a statement concerning the Mining Safety Act. The statement will deal with how our government proposes to proceed, in consultation with appropriate interest groups.
Mr. Speaker, the process of government does not have to be too complex and difficult to understand, but it does take elected leaders and professional staff, working as a team, to make it relevant to the public. With understanding and commitment all of us have a chance to develop new rules and styles of government at both the community and territorial levels that are complementary, supportive and unique to our own northern style and cultural traditions.
Much of what I have said today is not new. All of us have heard talk about streamlining government, transferring greater responsibility and resources to communities and designing a northern style government, but little has been achieved because we are never able to get all affected stakeholders onto the same team. This time I am confident that things will be different. The desire for change is strong across the NWT and that strength will help us succeed.
In conclusion, I have some further announcements that should be seen as a demonstration of our government's serious commitment to the job at hand and its support for the concept of "living within our means". The Government Leader, Ministers and deputy ministers have all agreed to work for less. My annual base salary will be reduced by $7000; Ministers' salaries will be reduced by $5000, and deputy ministers' salaries will be cut by $2500 per year.
In addition, I have been asked by the Speaker to announce that his base salary will also be reduced by $5000. The changes will come into effect January 1, 1992.
Finally, effective immediately, Ministers will no longer be able to have government cars assigned to them on a permanent basis. Cabinet has agreed to use the Public Works vehicle pool for government business, just like all other government workers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
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