Legislative Assembly photo



Crucial Fact

Last in the Legislative Assembly October 2011, as MLA for Hay River North

Won his last election, in 2007, with 61% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Reflections On 2000 Arctic Winter Games March 21st, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to reflect on the week of March 5th to the 11th and the Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon. Mr. Speaker, I had the privilege of attending and taking part in the games as the coach of the Northwest Territories Junior Women's Curling Team. Although our team schedule kept us very busy and allowed us very little time to take part in any of the other sports, I can safely say that we enjoyed the games very much.

Mr. Speaker, the more than 315 participants from the Northwest Territories should be congratulated, first for being such great ambassadors and, secondly, for bringing home some 108 ulus including 42 gold.

As a coach, I get a great deal of satisfaction watching young athletes achieve their personal best performance when everything is on the line. Throughout the week there were many great performances, such as the 11 year-old Jason Baxter from Inuvik, who won a silver and two gold ulus in dog mushing, the first ever gold for the Northwest Territories in that sport.

There are many other examples far too numerous to mention here today. However, there were other events of a less positive note and some of these I will address during question period. Mr. Speaker, I would like at this time to recognize all the athletes from Hay River, who participated in the 2000 Arctic Winter Games and I congratulate all the ulu winners in all the sports. I want to especially recognize the following athletes:

  • • Megan Crowley from Yellowknife;
  • • Ashley Hval, Fort Smith; and
  • • Dayna Haley and Katrina Delorey, both from Hay River.

These four young athletes made up the Northwest Territories junior women's curling team. I want to point out, Mr. Speaker, that they did not have the opportunity to curl together as a team prior to the games. However, they were able to pull it all together and bring home silver ulus, losing the final game to a stronger Alberta North team. However, Mr. Speaker, their silver ulu performance is not the reason for their special recognition here today. This team was able to overcome any personal differences they may have had, overcome two player injuries that occurred, as well as a few defeats along the way.

But more importantly, this team was able to seize the spirit of the games and as a result received the Fair Play Award for female curling. These girls were very happy to receive this award. As their coach, I was extremely proud of them. Fair play and good sportsmanship, Mr. Speaker, I believe is what the games are all about. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 78-14(2): Examination Of Spending Reduction Options February 29th, 2000

Simply that with any benefits that we may receive from the federal government in the budget that just came down, does the Minister anticipate that this will be enough to maintain what we do in terms of public service jobs and programs?

Question 78-14(2): Examination Of Spending Reduction Options February 29th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this possibly is one area that we could get some assurance from the Minister. We have talked about the federal budget that just came down. If there is any benefit to the Territories at all, would the Minister anticipate that we may have enough benefit there to maintain what we do have in the private sector as far as jobs and public service programs?

Question 78-14(2): Examination Of Spending Reduction Options February 29th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I said in my Member's statement, we have a large number of public service employees out there that are aware of the fiscal situation that this government is in.

I would like to ask the Minister, if he could give us some assurance that a public announcement will be made in a timely fashion, to give the public service employees out there some assurance of the jobs that they do have.

Question 78-14(2): Examination Of Spending Reduction Options February 29th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker could the Minister inform the House as to where we could anticipate some possible job losses in the public service?

Question 78-14(2): Examination Of Spending Reduction Options February 29th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Finance, Mr. Handley.

As stated in my Member's statement, the government of the 13th Assembly made some very deep cuts in programs and public service jobs. Mr. Speaker, I am aware that this government will be looking for ways to address our fiscal situation. Could the Minister please inform the House if in fact there is a working group looking at possible cuts as we speak?

Impact Of Public Service Reductions February 29th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the many issues that arose as I campaigned was the government had already stripped its workforce to the bare minimum. Mr. Speaker, the people I talked with thought that any more cuts to staff would impact the ability of the departments to deliver the programming.

Mr. Speaker, the people thought that, if anything, the government had already cut programming too close to the bone. This becomes apparent when you look at the one example of the cuts addiction services received over the life of the last Assembly. We may have gone too far.

As the Member with possibly the most experience within the labour movement, Mr. Speaker, it is natural that I would be expected to take the lead on labour issues emanating from this side of the House and would become the contact point for the Union of Northern Workers.

I understand the pressures the uncertainty over whether there will be any further reductions in government employees is placing on my former brothers and sisters in the Union of Northern Workers. Mr. Speaker, it is hard, in fact impossible, to plan your life if you are not sure whether you will have a job two or three months down the road.

The Union has been looking for assurances there would be no further layoffs to the Northwest Territories hardworking public service. Mr. Speaker, the Union had thought they had the support for no reductions in the public service, as a result of a poll they took of candidates during the election.

In that poll, Mr. Speaker, the Union asked the candidates whether they supported cutting government jobs to balance the budget. The majority of the successful candidates the Union managed to contact on both sides of the House, gave a simple "no" answer. A couple of current MLAs qualified their answer by saying not without further study on the issue.

The point I am trying to make, Mr. Speaker, is that this promise to the electorate should have made it relatively easy for me to shop a non-binding motion to my fellow MLAs on no more cuts to the civil service for the upcoming fiscal year. This was not the case.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure my constituents I have not forgotten the promises I made. I will fight any further reductions to the public service.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to encourage the government to make a statement reassuring the public service sector as soon as possible. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters February 28th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I like the cover on the report, Our Community, Our Decisions. Let's Get On With It. I am sure people of the North are saying let us get on with it in many different areas, not only in health and social services.

In the area of health and social services, and all the recommendations that are made in the report, I am not so sure we are going to be able to go ahead and get all of these things done without more studies and more evaluations. I can see a lot more, if you read through this.

I do not believe some of the recommendations are going to happen without some more studying. I do not think we have reached the end of that, although I do believe we have to cut down on the amount of studying we do and the amount of money we put into the studies. We need to get some of these things done.

The whole health issue has been mentioned before. I feel very strongly that it is a family issue and very much tied into education. We can do all the work we want in health, including trying to cure the sick, but until we educate the families to do it at home and stress the importance of leading healthy lives, it is going to be a struggle for any government to try and carry out a proper healthcare system. Education plays a big factor in this. Somehow, the two of them have to be tied together, whether it is through the amalgamation of boards or another solution. I think we have to find a way to address health issues through education.

I know one area that is really tough to deal with, and one I have heard time and time again in Hay River, is the problem of somebody coming into a healthcare centre with a sickness that is an ongoing problem. The people dealing with the health problem know the problem is caused from another area. There are two or three different areas that cause this, whether it is the condition of the life of the family, or whether it is education. They are directly related, and they know they can treat that sickness.

They send the person home knowing two or three months down the road, they are going to be back with the very same problem. They have no system in place to address the root of the problem. There may be three areas causing one problem, but the mandate they have only addresses one. And that is what is occurring now. That is the sickness that is there now.

I do not know how you would do it, but I think we have to look at people who are responsible for carrying out health care systems. If they know for a fact this problem is being caused in a different area, they have no way or no right to venture into that avenue.

It would be nice if we had some kind of combination where we could bring these things to light and treat the symptoms for what they are. Maybe that way we could help some people. Whether it is going back to the families, to the parents whatever, and saying this is what is causing this problem. What can we do about it as a unit? We have to bring it back to the family.

In the North, there is a danger we might be losing some of the infrastructure we have. I know the hospital in Hay River sometimes wonders if they are going to be there as a regional hospital or just a community health centre. It is a beautiful facility. I think some of the speciality work could be going on in Hay River. It does not necessarily have to all be in Yellowknife. We have many areas where we could bring in some professionals and set them up in Hay River.

One of the other areas I am concerned with is travel benefits for our people. I know it is important to have special help for aboriginals who are coming out of the small communities. But from the community I represent, 50 percent of the people are non-aboriginals. When they are sick, they are just as sick as the aboriginals. When they need help for travel, I think it should be available to them as well.

I think we go backwards in a lot of cases. I look around and I see the people who are making the biggest wages are the ones who are qualified the most for health benefits, as far as travel is concerned. It is pretty tough when you have two people living next door to each other and one gets airfare to a hospital and the other does not. If they get the airfare, then they get hotel accommodations, meals, and a rental car. It seems like they either receive absolutely nothing or absolutely everything. To represent two people from a riding where one is eligible for this and another is not, I have a hard time trying to justify that, simply because of who they are. If there is any government money going into it at all, then I think one person should be just as qualified for it as the other.

In the area of training, I think it is important we have a lot of northern people trained, especially in the nursing field. One of my colleagues mentioned a while ago that many of the people who are trained in the North are working in North.

I just happened to be talking to one person at the hospital in Yellowknife last week, and he was on his way to Texas. He had gone through a nursing training program, and could not find employment in the Northwest Territories because he had no experience. He had to go to the States to get experience, because he could not get a job in the Territories, even though he took his nursing program here. I do not know if that problem has been fully addressed or not.

I heard it mentioned a while ago that one of the big areas we have to address is seniors. I fully agree. We have many seniors in my riding, and many people who are going to become seniors in the near future. Our demands for programs for seniors is going to be growing dramatically. We have to find a way of addressing those needs as well. I am looking forward to the briefing we have with the Minister responsible for Health and Social Services to get deeper into this and see exactly where we are. I will probably have more questions later on. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Question 68-14(2): Medical Travel And Medivac Contracts February 28th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was brought to my attention when a member from my riding had to travel for medical reasons, that the pain she went through getting on and off the plane for a trip to Yellowknife for day surgery was worse than what she was suffering from. The airline was not very accommodating to her as far as making it easy for her to get on and off the plane.

I was wondering if the Minister could tell me if she knows of any other cases like that or the procedure that a patient can go through to raise concerns in that area. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 68-14(2): Medical Travel And Medivac Contracts February 28th, 2000

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, is the Minister aware of any policies or guidelines in place as to how travelling patients should be treated? Is there a policy the airlines are supposed to follow?