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Crucial Fact

  • His favourite word was know.

Last in the Legislative Assembly November 2015, as MLA for Yellowknife Centre

Lost his last election, in 2019, with 23% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Question 921-17(5): Acton Plan For Persons With Disabilities October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was on the tip of my tongue on the last question, but I was trying to find out if the Minister of Health and Social Services was tasked with the lead role on the Disability Steering Committee for these initiatives. So, he is somewhat responsible for all the areas.

My last question is really focused around employment, and some people say the best poverty plan is jobs, an action plan, creating employment for people. I did talk earlier in my statement about stabilizing income and helping people so they can have a meaningful quality role in society that they so truly deserve and desire.

What is the Minister doing and what can the Minister explain to this House that the department has done to help provide opportunities for employment initiatives to help people with disabilities live meaningful lives while they can contribute and make an income? Thank you.

Question 921-17(5): Acton Plan For Persons With Disabilities October 5th, 2015

As my colleague had said, this is a multi-disciplinary issue. So, in other words, what that really is, is government jargon that’s spread across multiple departments and it’s difficult to nail one person as responsible.

The initial action plan identified five key areas. I won’t go through them again, but maybe the Minister can talk about how the department has helped facilitate better housing for people with disabilities and found ways to help them work through poverty to ensure we can get them back into the workforce to do better things, because they want to be in a meaningful role in society and we should be facilitating that. So let’s target the area of housing and how we’ve made their lives better.

Question 921-17(5): Acton Plan For Persons With Disabilities October 5th, 2015

I certainly appreciate that answer. In 2014 the NWT Disabilities Council decided on their own initiative to conduct their own territory- wide survey. So, they reached out to clients, caregivers and certainly professionals obviously connected to disabilities. Their survey reached out to more than 320 people in all communities but one.

My question for the Minister of Health and Social Services is: What is the Department of Health doing with that valuable survey information gathered by the NWT Disabilities Council, and are they able to put it into some type of use and action, because it is incredibly important information. Thank you.

Question 921-17(5): Acton Plan For Persons With Disabilities October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My first question will be to the Minister responsible for disabilities. In 2012 the NWT Disabilities Council asked for an update on the NWT Action Plan for Disabilities. Part of their launch of the action plan originally identified a hundred concerns and they were further refined down to five particular themes. Of course, things like education, employment, income, and disability supportive housing were the themes that they had refined them down to.

The question to the Minister is: When will there be a progress report on the success of that action plan and when will we see it either tabled in this House or tabled publicly for us to move forward on this initiative? Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to recognize a couple of people quickly. First off, I’d like to recognize a constituent of mine, Ms. Karen Wright-

Fraser. I’ve know her for

a very long time. We all know Karen is a wonderful woman who is a timeless talent of the ages in the art of Gwich’in traditional arts and crafts, so she is certainly a hero to her community and women alike in her amazing talents. To that, I give a great nod.

The other person I’d like to quickly recognize is Denise McKee. She is up in the gallery here today and I suspect she is here for the motion that will be on the floor later today. She is the executive director of the NWT Disabilities Council. If Denise doesn’t pull you aside, I’ll remind you that the 2015 Annual Benefit Auction is November 20th at the YK

Inn. See you soon.

Action Plan For Persons With Disabilities October 5th, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In May of 2001, the Premier of the day then tasked a steering committee to develop a partnership that would work on the issue of disabilities to promote inclusion of persons throughout the Northwest Territories through their disabilities. With that task force, they devolved through their Disability Steering Committee, they developed a partnership that identified five key areas, and I suspect my good colleague to my left, Ms. Bisaro, will be referring to them as well.

Under educatio

n: ensuring the…(inaudible)…free

lifelong learning opportunities that maximize the potential of individuals with disabilities are realized.

Under employment: enhance the employability of persons with disabilities, encourage re-entry into the labour market and support more work opportunities.

Under

income:

design

a

system

that

is

representative to the needs of persons with disabilities and provides for an income safety net which rewards individual’s work efforts to the greatest extent possible, but which provides financial assistance if self-support is impossible and insufficient to meet the basic needs.

Under disability support the goal was to ensure that disability support provide for an active participation at home, at school, in the community and they maximize personal and economic independence.

Finally, the fifth area was housing, a goal to ensure that persons with disabilities will be provided with a range of housing opportunities that are affordable, accessible and that maximizes their independence.

At the time it was very forward thinking and all those involved should be applauded, but in 2008, when the Minister of the day presented to the House the NWT Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities,

it was a leap forward. But that’s as far

as it went. Since that time, begrudgingly, the NWT Council for Disabilities has been trying to follow up to find out where it’s gone. They had one question, which was: what’s been accomplished? Other than a flurry of activity and scrambling for a little bit of excitement, little has been shown for the great report that was put together to change and improve the lives of people with disabilities.

The NWT Disabilities Council took it upon themselves to get out there into the communities, talk to service agencies, reach out and find out what’s really happening on the ground. They found that there are so many people in the Northwest Territories

– in the range of 16 percent, I believe it

is

– 14.6 percent of the population has a disability.

Although time is running out, this issue is still vibrant and very important. Rather than me extending my Member’s statement, I’ll have my good colleague to my left, Ms. Bisaro, pick up where I’ve left off. But it’s an important issue all the same.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters October 2nd, 2015

I thank the Minister for that answer. Is there any commitment that we can get that that will be the process followed?

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters October 2nd, 2015

I hear the Minister but I worry he’s

not hearing me. The issue is it’s not about Avens and if the government decides to contract directly with Avens for services for the extended care level 5 beds. Albeit it’s not as if it’s a competitive market in the city where we’ve got 50 seniors agencies scrambling at the door saying we want a chance. We really have one. Sorry; two. I should say it this way. You have Avens and you have the Government of the Northwest Territories. You have one or the other who wants to take on the challenge.

That isn’t the issue, and I want to be very clear, but the problem really boils simply down to the fact that if the government is now offsetting its, sort of, problem with this one by finding a partner who’s willing to carry the weight or the crux of the issue and follow through on the success of it, that’s great. But the fact is we’re giving them the money, government money, public money, taxpayer money, and they’re going about it in a way that probably creates great frustration in the community. I can’t say they will. I want to stress that. I can’t say they won’t. I don’t know. But I can tell you, when you are in business, be it in Yellowknife or anywhere in the Northwest Territories, and the government gives, I stress by way of example, $10 million for another group to build a facility that will then come up with a long-term contract, they see that still as government money. If the government enters into a $10 million, $20 million, $30 million project by way of contracting spaces, beds, leasing, whatever, they still see that as government money used to pay for that whole facility.

If any agency enters into sole-source agreement, they just see it as, de facto, the government has chosen to steer or redirect government taxpayer

money without a competitive process, and that’s what I’m trying to avoid. I’m trying to see that we have a competitive process. Yellowknife is the one market community where we have a competitive community. It’s not as if it’s in Fort McPherson where you may only have one or two people who can do these types of things, or you’re in maybe Fort Simpson where, again, you’re very limited on your options and choices. The everyday citizen sees it as government going through. It’s not the issue of Avens being the partner or the deliverer of the solution. It’s about how we get the construction portion and component of it, and that is a great concern. We have construction companies in the city that have more than enough skills and competence to do that, and that’s the type of assurance we need. I’m sorry to go on at length, but I need to ensure that it’s explained very well where the issue l

ays. It doesn’t lay with Avens.

The final thing I’ll say on this area is that if any agency wants to enter into a contract with the Northwest

Territories

government,

I

mean,

essentially they do it at their own choice. We could put in our agreement with them that they have to have a competitive process on that. That’s a choice we can make how they do that. To say that, well, it’s up to them, actually I disagree. If they want to provide the service, which I certainly hope they do because I believe they do a darn good job at it, we can say at the beginning that you have to be competitive and that is the minimum expectation we have in that area.

I know we have a lot of contractors. We even have some formally of Hay River who would like to be involved in this initiative and opportunity just to bid. I’m looking for some type of assurance I can go back to the folks in this community who own construction businesses who want to play a role in this, because these opportunities don’t come along very often.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters October 2nd, 2015

I guess I go to the Minister and, hopefully, maybe if he doesn’t want to answer, maybe the other Minister will answer it, or somebody will take responsibility for it, which is: Who can confirm or commit to the House that there will be a competitive process in this particular initiative?

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters October 2nd, 2015

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’m not

going to belabour this section very long. I just need to clarify a particular thing under the extended care 18-bed facility being anticipated to be here in Yellowknife. One of the particular issues that has arisen is the competitiveness of those opportunities.

Can I get the Minister’s commitment to this House that it will be a competitive tender process whether it is developed through a partnership with Avens or it’s developed as a government project or some other way? The point is, I want to ensure that this extended care facility is an open and competitive contract, our contractors can be involved in it and at least take a shot. I hear, time and time again, that although they don’t like it when they lose – make no mistake, they don’t like it – the fact is, they like it even less if they don’t get to be involved in the bid.