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Updated: 18 hours 17 min ago

Mining Industry Advisory Board sets priorities for advancing mineral development at first meeting

Fri, 06/05/2015 - 11:14

YELLOWKNIFE (June 5, 2015) – The new Northwest Territories Mining Industry Advisory Board (MIAB) held its inaugural meeting in Yellowknife on June 3, 2015.

Board members agreed that the health of the mineral industry in the NWT is at a critical point. During the current downturn in commodity prices, the NWT must position itself to maximize opportunities presented by a return to higher commodity prices.

“With devolution under our belts, self-determination is in our hands,” Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay said. “We need to ensure employment and business opportunities for our communities are realized from our resource-based economy while continuing to achieve high environmental and social standards. The MIAB will help us to do that.”

During the meeting, members discussed the critical importance of:

  • An effective and efficient regulatory system;
  • The need for infrastructure development that would foster development;
  • Creating more public awareness and education of the importance of mineral development to the NWT economy; and
  • Promotion of the NWT’s mineral potential to investors.

The MIAB recommended that the Minister focus on the following key strategic priorities:

  • The creation of a leading edge Mineral Resources Act, noting that the NWT is the only jurisdiction in Canada without such an Act;
  • The creation and implementation of a public awareness campaign to build public support for mineral exploration and development to grow the economy and create more wealth and prosperity for NWT residents; and
  • Investment and promotion of the NWT as a destination for investment by the private sector.

“We share the GNWT’s vision of building a more vibrant mineral resource industry in the NWT,” said Brendan Bell. “Based on this first meeting, we have identified key issues that require immediate action, and we will begin work on those priorities immediately.”

Minister Ramsay announced plans to establish the MIAB earlier this year. The volunteer board will provide non-binding independent strategic advice on the mining and exploration resource sector in the NWT.

MIAB members are:

  • Mr. Brendan Bell of Dominion Diamonds Corporation of Yellowknife, NWT (Chair)
  • Mr. Darrel Beaulieu of DEMCo Limited Partnership of Yellowknife, NWT
  • Mr. Rod Brown of Discovery Mining Services of Yellowknife, NWT
  • Ms. Leni Keough of Olivut Resources of Hinton, Alberta
  • Mr. Don Bubar of Avalon Rare Metals of Toronto, Ontario
  • Mr. John Kearney of Canadian Zinc of Toronto, Ontario

The establishment of the MIAB fulfills a recommendation of the Mineral Development Strategy, a key priority of the 17th Legislative Assembly, and supports the Assembly’s goals of strengthening the economy and creating opportunities in all regions.

 

Media inquiries:

Roya Grinsted
Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-669-2308
Email: roya_grinsted@gov.nt.ca

David Ramsay: Community Justice and Policing Conference – Together We’re Better

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 15:53

Mr. Speaker, earlier this spring the Department of Justice hosted “Together We’re Better”, a conference on community safety planning, networking and building partnerships. Eighty people from across the Northwest Territories attended the two-day conference in Yellowknife. The focus was on small communities and included Elders, chiefs, mayors and senior community officials as well as Community Justice Workers, Aboriginal Court Workers, Corrections staff, Health and Social Services staff and representatives from NGO’s. The knowledge and experience that participants brought to the conference proved to be a key factor in its success.

The conference built on the work that the Department has been doing in partnership with Community Justice Committees and others to share information and develop strong individualized safety plans in our communities. These partnerships have been vital to the crime prevention successes we have had over the past few years with our Community Justice, Court Worker and Victim Services Programs as well as the Pan Territorial Research Project on crime prevention.

The conference “Together We’re Better” highlighted the many Justice programs and supports available to all communities in the NWT. This information was particularly directed at representatives from smaller communities who might not have been aware of the services available and do not have the capacity to deliver these programs themselves.

The conference was funded by our federal partners at the National Crime Prevention Center and the Aboriginal Justice Directorate at Public Safety Canada. Our own Community Justice and Policing Division also provided support.

The conference was timely, as many of our smaller communities will be visited this year by staff from Community Justice and Policing and the RCMP to help them refine their Policing Priority Action Plans. We recognize that by talking together we can all help make residents safer using local resources, as well as those available through the RCMP, Department of Justice and other organizations.

It is clear from the feedback we received that the conference was a tremendous success. It not only allowed community leaders to interact with front line workers, but it also encouraged collaboration, networking and partnership building amongst government departments and non-government agencies. Attendees told conference organizers that the chance to meet people from a range of communities and organizations and to exchange and discuss ideas about safety planning was a valuable experience.

Mr. Speaker, for the past four years, Members of this Assembly have been hearing about a change in the way we do business with communities to address their policing needs. I am pleased with the substantial progress we have made in focusing on safe communities with strong people who are able to be independent and healthy.

Today many communities are actively involved in discussions with the RCMP aimed at identifying local policing priorities. Some communities have also taken the next step to develop Policing Action Plans to better target resources. As we continue with this coordinated approach to community safety planning I am confident that it will continue to produce solutions that are effective because they reflect and support community needs.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackson Lafferty: Improvements to the Student Financial Assistance Program

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 15:53

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment is focused on ensuring opportunities, education and training are available to all residents of the Northwest Territories. As our labour market needs expand, so do the opportunities. The GNWT Population Growth Strategy has a target to bring 2000 people to the territory in the next four years, and ECE is doing its part to contribute to that strategy through one of our most valuable resources – our students. The Department supports NWT postsecondary students to obtain the skills and education they need to contribute to a prosperous Northern economy.

Mr. Speaker, in support of the GNWT Population Growth Strategy, the Department will be making the following significant improvements to SFA for the 2015-16 academic year:
• Increasing loan remission rates, so students have their debt forgiven faster while residing in the NWT;
• Implementing a $2,000 Northern Bonus for both NWT and southern students who reside in the NWT to be applied to their student loan debt;
• Introducing a 0% interest rate for students who return to live in the NWT after completing their studies;
• Increasing funding for tuition and books; and,
• Removing the 20 semester funding limit and re-introducing a revolving loan limit, so students who pay down their loan can access additional funding.

I am also pleased to announce that we launched an SFA online application on June 1st. The online application will simplify the application process, increase online presence and make the SFA program more accessible to NWT residents.

Mr. Speaker, the SFA application forms have also changed so that students can easily give their consent for ECE to connect them with all NWT employers to facilitate employment opportunities. Connecting students and employers will help ensure that our students return to the NWT and help meet the needs of the labour market.

Furthering the GNWT Growth Strategy, we are not only engaging with our Northern students, but also encouraging Southern students to take advantage of the opportunities of living in the North.

Mr. Speaker, I have said before that our people are our territory’s greatest resource. Having more educated NWT residents entering the workforce will strengthen our economy and create opportunities across the territory for both Northerners and potential residents looking to make the North their home.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Glen Aberbethy: Pharmaceutical Action Plan

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 15:44

Mr. Speaker, an equitable and sustainable health care system is one of the priorities of the 17th Assembly. One way we can support this priority is by improving the management of pharmaceuticals.

Mr. Speaker, to date, provincial and territorial governments have each made significant efforts to address the challenges and manage pharmaceuticals in a way that maximizes patient health outcomes while contributing to system sustainability.

Under the leadership of Canada’s Premiers, provincial and territorial governments have demonstrated their commitment to working together to produce significant results that benefit patients and the healthcare system. In particular, the establishment of the Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance has already resulted in lower prices on over 40 brand name drugs.

While pharmaceuticals are not a significant cost to the NWT health system compared to other jurisdictions in Canada, we recognize the ongoing importance of this issue and the Department of Health and Social Services continues to pursue opportunities to improve the management of pharmaceuticals.

The Department is finalizing a draft NWT Pharmaceutical Action Plan to address our management of pharmaceuticals using an integrated and collaborative approach. The challenges and opportunities that we face relate to three key areas: Access; Sustainability; and Safety and Appropriate Use.
Elements of the Action Plan will include: a shared procurement model for prescription drugs for all Authorities; expansion of the scope of practice for pharmacists; and updating an agreement with the NWT Pharmaceutical Association relating to pharmaceuticals dispensed for individuals registered on GNWT programs such as Extended Health Benefits and Métis Health Benefits.

Mr. Speaker, for NWT residents, access to pharmaceuticals is not necessarily by need or ability to pay. Coverage for necessary pharmaceuticals outside of a hospital setting is currently determined by age, ethnicity, income, specified disease conditions or whether an employer provides supplementary drug benefits. In some cases, individuals have chosen to purchase private insurance to ensure they have coverage.

Shared procurement of drugs through the services of a national drug group purchasing organization by most of the Health and Social Services Authorities has lowered drug costs for our system. Procurement can be further improved and coordinated through the establishment of an integrated territorial health and social services authority.

The Department of Finance’s Program Review Office is completing a review of pharmaceutical management to assess the current state of pharmaceutical products of purchasing, coverage, and regulation in the NWT and provide comparisons to other jurisdictions and best practices across Canada.

The Department is also working with the NWT Pharmaceutical Association to decrease harm from controlled drugs and substances. A Controlled Substance Steering Committee, which includes representation from the RCMP, the NWT Pharmaceutical Association, clinicians, and a member of the public, was established last year.

Prescription drug monitoring is an important component of decreasing the harm caused by controlled substances and will help to identify unusual patterns and provide peer-based educational opportunities. Recent changes to the Pharmacy Act set the stage for developing a prescription drug monitoring program, and the Department is beginning that work.

In addition, the Department established a steering committee, in consultation with the NWT Pharmaceutical Association, to explore expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, provincial and territorial Ministers of Health continue the dialogue about how to improve pharmaceutical coverage while controlling costs. Next week, I will attend a National Pharmacare Round table convened by the Ontario Health Minister. The Roundtable will bring together leading health care experts and decision-makers from across Canada. We can benefit from their advice and better understand the research, options, costs and benefits underpinning potential national pharmacare models.

All of these initiatives will support the development of our Pharmaceutical Action Plan. Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with Standing Committee as we move toward the finalization and implementation of a Pharmaceutical Action Plan that will benefit all residents of the Northwest Territories.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

David Ramsay: Great Slave Lake Fishing Industry

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 15:40

Mr. Speaker, NWT’s commercial fishery has been hit hard over the past decade by a number of circumstances well beyond its influence or control.

Hardest hit have been commercial fishers in the NWT who have been powerless to respond to a rise in the Canadian dollar, border closures and weakening US and global markets. Our fleets and fishers are aging considerably. The volumes and participation in our fishery have declined.

What has not decreased, Mr. Speaker, is the number of fish in the lake or the proven markets with which we can rebuild our fishery. The NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy has highlighted both of these as opportunities to restore and revitalize an industry that, I believe, remains important and vital to our economy and to our Territory.

Last year, we committed to developing a business plan to make this happen. Today, I would like to highlight to Members the steps that we are taking to put this plan in place.

Our plan sees the current governance model on the lake changing dramatically.

It will see the responsibility of ownership, operation and replacement, of a processing plant transferred from the federal Fresh Water Fish Marketing Corporation, to the local private sector.

It will transform our fishery from a whole fish fishery to one that supplies domestic, commercial and export markets with value-added fish products in both fresh and frozen form.

A private sector single desk selling function, profit driven, not legislatively driven, will work to ensure all orders are competitively served.

We will extend the NWT market for Great Slave Lake fish North and South- from Banks Island to Fort Smith.

Current suppliers of domestic markets will be offered resources to address the capital requirements they need to serve their markets efficiently and effectively. These men and women are long-standing partners in our work to grow and develop local markets and we will ensure they thrive with our industry.

Our plan calls for investment to ensure our producers can be mobile around the lake – not locked into the areas around Yellowknife and Hay River.

Through a transitional contractual agreement with the federal Fresh Water Fish Marketing Corporation, we aim to market and sell fish from Great Slave Lake into abandoned markets in Alberta.

We are investing in a training program, with a focus on young fishers, aimed at increasing the number of Northerners on the lake.

We propose to encourage new fishers from outside the NWT, mainly from Alberta, to relocate their now defunct operations to Great Slave Lake.

Mr. Speaker, the benefits of our plan can and will be realized all around. Much like the model that we recognize in devolution, producers will see the benefits of having a direct say, and even ownership, in our industry.

Within five years we aim to see the economic impact of this fishery increasing tenfold and returns to producers increasing by at least 50 percent at dockside. For the NWT economy, it will mean new investment in capital, a thriving fishery and over 200 jobs and income opportunities.

Rebuilding our commercial fishery will take some time – and it will require some investment. We estimate almost $5 million dollars will be needed to build an export-grade fish plant and see our plan realized. At least three quarters of this investment will need to come from federal and territorial levels of government. It will be an investment in the economic potential of an industry that I believe is both overdue and reasonable.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has already committed $1.5 million dollars this year to ensuring that we can move our business plan forward and we are hoping to work with the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, to make this happen.

Mr. Speaker, despite obstacles and challenges, there remains a bright future for our fishery and I would like to assure Members of this Assembly that we are making every effort to realize it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bob McLeod: GNWT Response to the 2014 NWT Energy Charrette Report

Thu, 06/04/2015 - 15:36

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to a diversified economy that provides all communities and regions with opportunities and choices. Having an affordable, reliable and secure energy system that takes into account economic development and impacts to the environment is central to this goal.

In 2014 the Government of the Northwest Territories hosted its second Energy Charrette in response to concerns about increasing costs of energy, the low water level at the Snare hydroelectricity site, and the estimated costs to connect the North and South Slave transmission systems to the North American grid.

The 2014 Energy Charrette brought together the public, community representatives, stakeholders and experts to discuss what the Government of the Northwest Territories should do to reduce energy costs, increase energy security and reduce the environmental impacts of our energy system. Over 200 people attended the public event, and over 100 people attended the invitational stakeholder event. The Charrette featured 20 different speakers and presenters.

We heard that we should be more aggressive on energy efficiency and conservation, plan for increased development of small-scale community-based renewable energy projects, and continue to build biomass projects. Mr. Speaker, the government has prepared its response to the 2014 NWT Energy Charrette Final Report, which I will be tabling later today, at the appropriate time.

In this GNWT Response to the 2014 NWT Energy Charrette Report we have addressed what we heard during the charrette process. We are refocusing our short-term plans for this third year of the 2013 Energy Action Plan.
In the short-term we will focus on energy efficiency and conservation, both through the Arctic Energy Alliance and in government buildings. We will look at ways to improve the resilience of the North Slave hydro grid.

New community scale alternatives and renewable energy sources include:

  • The Colville Lake solar-battery-diesel project,
  • Wind feasibility studies in Inuvik and Yellowknife,
  • Potential solar projects on government buildings in Dehcho and Beaufort Delta communities,
  • Biomass boilers in schools, and
  • The potential for natural gas generation in thermal communities.

Our long-term goals will focus on transformational energy projects for communities and for potential new markets, which will require significant government investments, and will be presented for the consideration of the 18th Legislative Assembly.

This energy charrette process has been very successful and participants were very appreciative of having the opportunity to learn and voice their opinions on the future of the energy system in the Northwest Territories. I would like to personally thank everyone involved.

Mr. Speaker, our vision has always been strong individuals, families, and communities sharing the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories. Having a sustainable energy system in the Northwest Territories, which takes into account affordability, the economy, energy security and the environment is part of this vision.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Review panel seeks Northern perspectives on the Canada Transportation Act

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 17:50

Yellowknife (June 3, 2015) – A federally-appointed arm’s length panel reviewing the Canada Transportation Act is gathering feedback from Northerners on how new transportation policy and program development can further support sustainable economic development in the Northwest Territories.  

Minister of Transportation Tom Beaulieu welcomed the visiting panel members saying, “this is a valuable and unique opportunity for Northerners to provide our perspectives on how the transportation system can support economic growth with nation-building projects, such as the Mackenzie Valley Highway to Norman Wells, an all-weather road into the Slave Geological Province and an all-weather road to Whatı̀  in the Tłįchǫ̨ region.” 

Department of Transportation staff are escorting Review Panel members to Hay River today where they will meet with representatives from the transportation sector, such as NTCL, Coast Guard and the Great Slave Harbour Authority.  

In a statement to the Legislative Assembly, Minister Beaulieu said, “these meetings will provide Panel Members with first-hand information on areas of concern that involve the federal government, such as the maintenance of federal marine facilities, and dredging the Port of Hay River and critical sections of the Mackenzie River to accommodate fully loaded tugs and barges, fishing boats and the Coast Guard fleet.” 

The visit follows a round table discussion held in Yellowknife on June 2, 2015 with approximately 45 invited representatives of the NWT transportation sector including industry representatives, users, experts and others who represent a broad range of perspectives and experience on northern transportation.  Panel Members received input on how changes to federal policy and programs can help to resolve current and emerging transportation challenges in the NWT.  Transportation representatives also encouraged the panel to recommend that a new federal infrastructure program be established to meet the specific needs of the north.  

The Government of the Northwest Territories has provided the Panel with extensive input on the Canada Transportation Act review to help advance the 17th Assembly’s goal of an environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories. 

Media inquiries:
Roya Grinsted
Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-669-2308
Email: roya_grinsted@gov.nt.ca

Territory-wide transportation strategy tabled

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 16:53

YELLOWKNIFE (June 3, 2015) – Minister of Transportation Tom Beaulieu today released Connecting Us: Northwest Territories Transportation Strategy 2015-2040, which will guide development of the transportation system for the next 25 years. The strategy sets the path forward to improve the territory’s integrated air, road, rail and marine system led by a vision of “Northerners connected to opportunities”.   

“The strategy reflects the priorities of residents and all users of the NWT transportation system,” said Minister Beaulieu, referencing the Department of Transportation’s public engagement efforts over the last year, including an online survey, interviews with Members of the Legislative Assembly, stakeholders,  Aboriginal leaders and public meetings in every region of the territory. 

“What we heard led to the development of long term action under three key strategic objectives: Strengthening Connections, Capturing Opportunities and Embracing Innovation,” said the Minister. 

Two documents that will guide the implementation of the strategy will follow. The first Transportation Report Card will be completed in the fall of 2015 and will include statistics to provide a benchmark to measure success over the long term. The first 4-year action plan will be implemented over the life of the 18th Assembly. These documents will be reviewed and updated every four years to guide and measure progress toward achieving the long term vision for the transportation system outlined in Connecting Us

Strategic investments in the territory’s transportation infrastructure is a key part of the Government of the Northwest Territories plan for achieving the 17th Legislative Assembly’s vision of a unified, environmentally sustainable, and prosperous Northwest Territories. 

Media inquiries:
Roya Grinsted
Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-669-2308
Email: roya_grinsted@gov.nt.ca

 

Statement from Premier McLeod on the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:42

YELLOWKNIFE (June 3, 2015)  – Northwest Territories Premier Bob McLeod offered the following statement on the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission today:

“The Government of the Northwest Territories wishes to thank the Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and acknowledge the courageous contributions from all who participated in their important work, including the many residential school survivors and their families. 

“The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will help individuals, families and communities damaged by the experience of residential schools heal and is an important step towards the reconciliation needed to fulfill Canada’s potential.

“It is hoped that the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will spur  action from all Canadians and provide the foundation for further efforts towards reconciliation.

“The Government of the Northwest Territories has already taken steps to strengthen relationships with Aboriginal peoples, help restore and heal Aboriginal communities, and ensure that Aboriginal cultures and traditions are recognized and valued.

“The Northwest Territories recognizes nine Aboriginal languages, alongside English and French, as official languages of our territory.  The NWT, in collaboration with Nunavut, has developed and implemented mandatory curriculum, to ensure that all students in the NWT learn the history and effects of residential schools.  The NWT also shares 25% of the resource revenues it receives from public lands in the NWT with Aboriginal governments in our territory that are signatories to the devolution agreement.

“Of course, more work needs to be done to meet the objectives identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to achieve reconciliation and healing. The Government of the Northwest Territories will work to see reconciliation efforts continue, and is committed to ensuring that the work of the commission is properly considered and acted upon. 

“The Government of the Northwest Territories will undertake a detailed review of the comprehensive recommendations provided today by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and looks forward to working with Aboriginal residents and all residents of the NWT to help achieve the reconciliation identified by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”

Tom Beaulieu: NWT Transportation Strategy

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:33

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to announce that later today I will table an updated territory-wide, multi-modal Transportation Strategy entitled “Connecting Us: Northwest Territories Transportation Strategy 2015-2040”. This important document will guide further development of our integrated air, road, rail, and marine systems over the next 25 years. With this Strategy, the Department of Transportation will work towards a vision of “Northerners connected to opportunities”, based on three key strategic objectives.

The first, Strengthening Connections, represents the Department’s dedication to continuing to improve the existing transportation system. The second objective is Capturing Opportunities, signaling the Department’s intensions to expand the system. The third objective is Embracing Innovation, through which the Department strives to improve its operations and the way it delivers its services to the public.

Our Strategy was developed with substantial public and stakeholder input. Over the last year, staff with the Department of Transportation worked to ensure this Strategy reflects the priorities identified by residents and users of the NWT transportation system.

Mr. Speaker, these objectives support the goals identified by Members of this Assembly. Supporting a diversified economy while providing communities with opportunities through better connections is necessary for a prosperous future for our territory. 

The Department anticipates the release of two additional documents related to the Strategy this fall. A Transportation Report Card, the evaluation framework for the Strategy, will include statistics that provide a benchmark to measure the Department’s success. In addition, the Department will develop a four-year action plan for implementation beginning in 2015/16.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all those who participated in the development of the NWT Transportation Strategy by providing their input. The Department will continue working hard to meet your expectations and to deliver an enhanced transportation system in the NWT over the next 25 years.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bob McLeod: 2015 Premier’s Awards for Excellence

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 15:30

Mr. Speaker, earlier today, I had the opportunity to recognize award recipients within the Government of the Northwest Territories and their collaborative partners from outside the public service with the Premier’s Awards for Excellence and Collaboration in a ceremony in the Great Hall of the Legislative Assembly. 

These innovative, engaged staff are essential in providing the best possible service to the people of the Northwest Territories, and I am pleased to announce the recipients of the 2015 Premier’s Awards. 

Award for Excellence – Individuals:

  • Sarah Cook with the Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority.

 Award for Excellence – Employee Teams:

  • The Government of the Northwest Territories Délįnę Final Self-Government Agreement Ratification Team; the Incident-free Highway 3 Forest Fire Traffic Management 2014 Team; the Wellness Court Program Implementation Team; and the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link Project Development Team.

 Award for Collaboration:

  • The Łutsel K’e Dictionary Project; and the Education Renewal Innovation Education Partners.

 Dave Ramsden Career Achievement Award:

  • Sabrina Broadhead with the Department of Health and Social Services.

 Government Service Officers from across the Northwest Territories were also recognized for the important work they do in providing day-to-day services to our residents in the communities. Recently they, as part of the Single Window Service Centre model, were the recipients of the Bronze Award in the Federal/Provincial/Territorial category of the national IPAC/Deloitte Public Sector Leadership Award for 2014.

 Also presented this morning was the Commissioner’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration. This new award was created by the Northwest Territories Regional Group of IPAC, with the Commissioner as its patron. Each year, it will recognize a public sector practitioner whose career exhibits the highest standard of excellence, dedication and accomplishment. The first-ever recipient of this award was the Deputy Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Peter Vician. Thank you to IPAC NWT for establishing this new award celebrating excellence in public service and for recognizing a very deserving recipient. 

Mr. Speaker, as we near the end of our term, I invite Members to join with me in thanking our public service employees for a job well done. Their energy, drive and commitment to implement and achieve our priorities are evident throughout the entire public service and together we have accomplished much. 

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

GNWT and Gwich’in Tribal Council hold intergovernmental meeting

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 14:38

YELLOWKNIFE (June 3, 2015) – Members of Cabinet of the 17th Legislative Assembly and the Gwich’in Tribal Council’s Board of Directors met in Yellowknife yesterday evening.  

“Strengthening relationships with Aboriginal governments is a priority of the Legislative Assembly and this meeting builds upon the Memorandum of Understanding on Capacity Building that was signed on May 11th between the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Government of the Northwest Territories,” said Premier Bob McLeod. “We are committed to working together to build a strong, sustainable future for the Gwich’in region and our territory.” 

“This meeting is a good opportunity to further maintain and strengthen our relationship with the GNWT while working together towards our common goals,” said President James Wilson of the Gwich’in Tribal Council. 

During the meeting the parties agreed to undertake the following work: 

  • Create a working group to look at core principles and objectives
  • Work collaboratively on issues of violence against women and girls, and Aboriginal children in care
  • Meet with communities to discuss the composition of the Regional Wellness Council and the criteria of selecting representatives to sit on the Regional Wellness Council
  • Ensure distribution of updated Medical Travel Policies and how community members can access emergency medical travel
  • Work together to assess the GTC Camp and assess options for future use
  • Update information on the Gwich’in business public registry and population information as well as ensure that 2 meetings per year take place
  • Share information on education programs and areas where they are under accessed

This was the fifth meeting of the Gwich’in Tribal Council (GTC) and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) since they signed an intergovernmental agreement on October 13, 2012.  The Umbrella Intergovernmental Agreement regarding Intergovernmental Cooperation and Coordination recognizes the importance of the government-to-government relationship between the GTC and the GNWT. It commits both governments to meet twice per year. 

Media inquiries: 

Roya Grinsted
Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-669-2308            
Email: roya_grinsted@gov.nt.ca

 Tony Devlin
Communication Director
Gwich’in Tribal Council
Tel: 867-777-7923
Email: tdevlin@gwichin.nt.ca

Call for applications for the 2015–2016 Youth Ambassador Program

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 14:33

YELLOWKNIFE (June 3, 2015) – The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is now accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Northwest Territories (NWT) Youth Ambassador Program. The program provides NWT youth with opportunities to build leadership skills through participation at special events and volunteer assignments.  In the past, NWT Youth Ambassadors have attended the Arctic Winter Games, Canada Winter Games, Canada Summer Games and the North American Indigenous Games. 

“Participants in the NWT Youth Ambassador Program get to build skills and confidence through coordinated volunteer experience,” said Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs and Minister Responsible for Youth Robert C. McLeod. “Providing youth with development opportunities is important for developing the leaders of tomorrow.  I encourage all NWT youth who meet the criteria to apply to be ambassadors and represent their community and the NWT.” 

Applicants are selected based on community involvement, commitment to a healthy lifestyle and a personal reflection on how the Youth Ambassador Program will help them in the future.  To qualify for the program, youth must be between 16 and 24 years of age on December 31, 2015. The deadline to apply is September 25, 2015.  All NWT youth who qualify are encouraged to apply. 

The Youth Ambassador Program is part of the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Healthy Choice Framework and is working to maximize opportunities for NWT residents by helping young people improve their skills and make healthy choices.  Providing youth with development opportunities will create healthy, educated residents as outlined in the 17th Assembly’s vision of Believing in People and Building on the Strengths of Northerners

For more information on the Youth Ambassador Program, to apply online, or to download an application form, please visit www.nwtyouth.com.   

To submit a verbal application over the phone, please contact Dawn Moses, Youth/Volunteer Officer, at (867) 873-7329 or by email at dawn_moses@gov.nt.ca.   

Media inquiries:
David Maguire
Communications and Website Advisor
Municipal and Community Affairs
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 920-3092
Email: david_maguire@gov.nt.ca

Northwest Territories solidly on path to reconciliation: Education Minister attends TRC closing event

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 14:32

OTTAWA (June 3, 2015) – Northwest Territories Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) Jackson Lafferty attended the Walk of Reconciliation and spoke at the Actions of Reconciliation event during the closing ceremonies of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on June 1 in Ottawa.

“I am both pleased and saddened to attend this event,” said Minister Lafferty. “There has been such an outflow of support, interest and action generated by the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, but we are truly just getting started. In the Northwest Territories, we heeded the challenge laid before us by the TRC four years ago – to address the history and legacy of residential schools for our students. We responded, and along with the Government of Nunavut, the TRC and the Legacy of Hope Foundation, we developed the first comprehensive teaching resource in Canada on the history of residential schools and their legacy. We have made this a mandatory requirement for graduation for all students attending high school in the NWT.”

As of February 2015, all teachers in the NWT have been offered the training for this course, now in its second edition. Feedback from the first year informed the second printing, and numerous teachers from across the territory claim it has profoundly changed their perspective on the impacts of residential schools across Canada. 

Minister Lafferty added, “as Justice Murray Sinclair of the TRC has said consistently, ‘there is no reconciliation without education.’ Teachers are a critical part of this information, which is why we have included them as key partners in sharing the materials and stories gathered through our resource and materials. We want to ensure this moves beyond our northern borders to the rest of Canada.

“This is one of the reasons we have invited Aboriginal educators and indigenous scholars from across Canada to the Aboriginal Educators’ Symposium, coinciding with the Council for Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC) annual conference, in Yellowknife at the end of June. Recognizing that educators have the ability to transform students’ lives, we hope to explore how to better support Aboriginal educators in their work and to determine how to attract and retain more Aboriginal people to the teaching profession. This is so fundamental to our path to reconciliation and I will be extending an offer to provide training on the residential schools experience to other jurisdictions at the CMEC conference at the end of the month. This will provide other jurisdictions with the information to develop and design their own training for the specific needs of their teachers.”   

Minister Lafferty is the co-lead with Alberta for the CMEC pan-Canadian Aboriginal Education plan, which was committed to at CMEC 2014.

For more information on the NWT’s residential school system materials and resources, please click The Residential School System in Canada: Understanding the Past – Seeking Reconciliation – Building Hope for Tomorrow

Media inquiries:
Jacqueline McKinnon
Education, Culture and Employment
T: 867-920-6222
C: 867-446-6002
Email:  jacqueline_mckinnon@gov.nt.ca              

 

Communiqué de presse – Les Territoires du Nord-Ouest bien engagés sur la voie de la réconciliation : le ministre de l’Éducation assiste à l’événement de clôture de la Commission de vérité et de réconciliation 

Ottawa, le 3ème juin 2015 – Jackson Lafferty, ministre de l’Éducation, de la Culture et de la Formation des Territoires du Nord-Ouest, a participé à la marche de la réconciliation et s’est exprimé lors de l’événement sur les gestes de réconciliation, pendant les festivités de clôture de la Commission de vérité et de réconciliation, le 1er juin à Ottawa. 

« Je suis à la fois heureux et triste d’assister à cet événement », a déclaré le ministre Lafferty. « Nous avons été impressionnés par la portée du soutien, de l’intérêt et des actions générés par les travaux de la Commission de vérité et de réconciliation, et ce n’est qu’un début. Aux Territoires du Nord-Ouest, nous avons décidé de relever le défi que la Commission nous a proposé il y a quatre ans, qui était de s’intéresser à l’histoire et à l’héritage des pensionnats pour nos étudiants. Nous avons répondu présents et conjointement avec le gouvernement du Nunavut, la Commission de vérité et de réconciliation et la Fondation autochtone de l’espoir, nous avons mis au point le premier document pédagogique exhaustif sur l’histoire et l’héritage des pensionnats au Canada. Dorénavant, tous les étudiants des TNO doivent étudier ce document pour obtenir leur diplôme. » 

À compter de février 2015, tous les enseignants des TNO ont pu suivre une formation pour offrir ce cours qui est donné pour la deuxième année. Les commentaires recueillis pendant la première année nous ont permis d’en peaufiner la deuxième édition, et nombreux sont les enseignants qui ont déclaré que ce document avait radicalement changé leur point de vue sur les répercussions des pensionnats au Canada. 

Le ministre Lafferty a ajouté : « Comme l’a toujours dit le juge Murray Sinclair de la Commission de vérité et de réconciliation, il n’y a pas de réconciliation possible sans éducation. Les enseignants sont au cœur de la transmission de ce message et nous leur avons assigné un rôle de partenaire clé en leur donnant accès aux documents et aux récits issus de nos ressources sur ce sujet. Nous souhaitons insuffler cet élan partout au Canada, au-delà des frontières des TNO. » 

« C’est une des raisons pour lesquelles nous avons invité des enseignants et universitaires autochtones des quatre coins du pays à participer au Symposium des enseignants autochtones à Yellowknife à la fin du mois de juin, date qui coïncide avec celle de la conférence annuelle du Conseil des ministres de l’Éducation du Canada (CMEC). Partant du principe que les enseignants peuvent transformer la vie des étudiants, nous espérons explorer des pistes pour aider au mieux les enseignants autochtones dans leur travail et trouver des façons d’attirer et de maintenir en poste davantage d’enseignants autochtones. Ce point est essentiel dans notre cheminement vers la réconciliation et je proposerai la mise en place d’une formation sur les pensionnats dans d’autres provinces et territoires lors de la conférence du CMEC à la fin du mois. Cela leur permettra d’accéder à des outils pour concevoir leur propre formation en fonction des besoins de leurs enseignants. »   

Le ministre Lafferty codirige avec l’Alberta le Plan pancanadien pour l’éducation des Autochtones du CMEC, qui a été ratifié en 2014.

Pour en savoir plus sur les documents et ressources dont nous disposons sur le régime des pensionnats aux TNO, veuillez cliquer sur le lien suivant : The Residential School System in Canada: Understanding the Past – Seeking Reconciliation – Building Hope for Tomorrow (en anglais). 

Demandes de renseignements aux médias :
Jacqueline McKinnon
Éducation, Culture et Formation
Tél. : 867 920-6222
Téléc. : 867 446-6002
Courriel : jacqueline_mckinnon@gov.nt.ca

GNWT credit rating of Aa1 / Stable confirmed

Wed, 06/03/2015 - 14:29

YELLOWKNIFE (June 3, 2015) – Minister of Finance J. Michael Miltenberger is pleased that Moody’s Investors Service continues to recognize the Government of the Northwest Territories’ (GNWT) sound fiscal management with another Aa1 credit rating. 

The rationale for the GNWT’s Aa1/Stable Outlook credit rating was included in a credit analysis published by Moody’s and based on their annual review of the GNWT’s fiscal plans and outlook – and in particular the government’s borrowing activity and the impact of devolution. 

“Once again, Moody’s has confirmed their recognition of our responsible fiscal management,” said Minister Miltenberger. “We have adopted fiscal policies that have supported the economy by maintaining spending and by investing significantly in infrastructure, but remain committed to our goal of long-term fiscal sustainability.” 

Minister Miltenberger added, “our commitment to responsible fiscal management will not change with the recent increase in the borrowing limit. In keeping with our Fiscal Responsibility Policy, we will maintain strict control of expenditure growth so that we can continue to fund at least half of our infrastructure investments through surpluses. This has become increasingly challenging because of projected flat revenue growth. However, our prudent fiscal policy and governance practices give me confidence we will meet these fiscal challenges head on.”

Moody’s high investment grade rating reflects prudent fiscal policies, a low debt burden and a developed fiscal framework with a track record of positive consolidated surpluses.

The highest possible credit rating issued by Moody’s is Aaa, one level above the GNWT’s.

Media inquiries:
Roya Grinsted
Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-669-2308
Email: roya_grinsted@gov.nt.ca

Premier and Minister promote NWT diamonds at international industry event

Tue, 06/02/2015 - 17:03

YELLOWKNIFE (June 2, 2015) – The Northwest Territories diamond industry took the stage at the industry’s premiere trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada this past weekend.

Speaking to an audience celebrating Dominion Diamond Corporations’ CanadaMark Diamond, NWT Premier Bob McLeod highlighted the territory’s unique approach to resource and diamond development that is allowing northern and Aboriginal businesses evolve as thriving partners and investors in the economy.  “The diamond industry has helped to build a model for northern resource development in the North,” said Premier McLeod. “We are turning our attention to developing other resources – and using our territory’s diamond experience and northern potential into a foundation for national prosperity.”

“The Northwest Territories is recognized globally as one of the most prospective regions in the world to search for economic kimberlite pipes,” said Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay. “So much so, that the original founders of our industry are now returning to explore and develop again. Our government continues to invest in geological research to further assist industry in their exploration.”

The JCK event brought together over 2,500 companies and over 20,000 buyers and investors from the world’s diamond industry to meet and conduct business.  The GNWT presence at the event reflected the importance of the diamond sector to the NWT.  NWT diamond producers from Dominion Diamond Corporation, Rio Tinto and De Beers Canada also attended, as did representatives from Crossworks Manufacturing Limited.

In the face of a dwindling world supply, Canadian diamond output is expected to increase.  With the NWT’s fourth diamond mine set to open next year, the Premier and Minister showcased the NWT as an integral part of the future of diamonds, not only in Canada, but on an international stage.

They met with present and future investors in the NWT industry and promoted opportunities in secondary industries focused on cutting and polishing high quality rough diamonds.

Media Inquiries:
Roya Grinsted

Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-669-2308
Email: roya_grinsted@gov.nt.ca

Parenting After Separation workshops expand to Behchoko and Hay River

Tue, 06/02/2015 - 15:47

YELLOWKNIFE (June 2, 2015) – Workshops designed to assist families who are going through marriage breakdowns have now been expanded to the communities of Behchoko and Hay River.

The Parenting After Separation workshop is designed to help parents make positive transitions, both for their children and for themselves, after a separation or divorce.  In these free workshops difficult issues are discussed and assistance is offered by facilitators for constructive resolutions. Ultimately, the goal is to make a painful process easier for both parents and their children. 

“We want to continue to offer valuable help for those families in turmoil due to marriage breakdown,” said Minister of Justice David Ramsay. “With this workshop, families will have a better understanding of their legal situation and the ability to make better decisions for themselves and their children. While the program has been offered in Yellowknife, there is also demand in other communities. This expansion has started with the communities of Behchoko and Hay River.”

Parents interested in participating in a free workshop are asked to call 867-873-7424 or toll-free 1-866-217-8923.  More information is also available at the Justice website www.justice.gov.nt.ca and follow the links in “Children and families”.

The Parenting After Separation workshop series continues in Yellowknife on a regularly scheduled basis and will be available as demand allows in smaller communities.

Media inquiries:

Sue Glowach
Senior Communications Advisor
Department of Justice
Tel: 867-920-3130
Email: Sue_glowach@gov.nt.ca

J. Michael Miltenberger: Citizens First Survey Results

Tue, 06/02/2015 - 15:41

Mr. Speaker, every budget session, I have provided this House with an update on the progress being made under the Service Innovation Strategy.  Today, I want to tell you about a tool we have to measure how satisfied Northern residents are with government service delivery.

The national “Citizens First” survey measures how satisfied Northwest Territories residents are with the Government of the Northwest Territories services they receive over the phone, in person and online. Since the survey began in 1998, it has gained international attention and recognition and remains the “gold-standard” in research on public sector service delivery.    

The GNWT participated, for the first time, in 2014, in “Citizens First 7” – the seventh in this series of studies.

These surveys explore various aspects of a changing service environment, tracking perceptions of service quality and performance for a wide range of services offered by municipal, provincial/territorial and federal governments.

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, the Yukon and Quebec have all participated in the survey. A combined telephone and mail/mail-to-online approach was used. Where appropriate, comparisons are provided to the overall national results and “Best Provincial/Territorial” results which represent the highest score by participating individual province or territory. Four hundred and three people were surveyed in the NWT.

The GNWT participated not only to establish a baseline for measuring progress, but also to understand more about what our residents expect from government, and what makes for the most satisfying service experience regardless of what “channel” Northerners access government services.   The term “channel” refers to how you access the service.  It can be online, in person, or on the telephone.

This first survey provided us with some very interesting information.  The Office of the Chief Information Officer has been making presentations and sharing the results of the report and recommendations for improvement with all of the government departments.

What did we find out?

  • The NWT’s service reputation score is the highest in Canada with a score of 66. The NWT’s score is higher than the national average and has the highest score of the participating provinces and territories. Your reputation score is indicative of the public perception of your services.  I hope this is not just beginner’s luck!
  • We also found out that NWT residents felt this government was responsive to the needs of a diverse population – whether it be visible minorities or people with a disability.
  • The NWT’s client satisfaction score – where NWT residents are asked to rate a recent experience with a territorial government service – saw the GNWT receiving scores on par with the highest score among the eight provinces/territories participating in the survey.

We will not let those good scores go to our heads.  We recognize there is room for improvement.  An article in May 8th ‘s Yellowknifer, entitled “Calls to the GNWT go to the Birds,” Mr. Walt Humphries points out how both he and Ms. Cece McCauley have found it difficult to find the information they needed from the GNWT.

Similar to the issues of the two Northern News Services columnists, the survey revealed the “findability” of information on our websites requires improvement as does our telephone wait times.  We also found out that we have challenges in solving problems, correcting errors and dealing with complaints, especially when a resident has to use more than two channels to solve their problem, or tell their story to multiple people.

In addition to providing some very valuable baseline information, the survey also summarized some priorities for improving services – like “customer service”.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer will offer service training for employees in June for Frontline Service Providers and in October for Certified Service Managers.   The training will help employees and their managers become accredited in service delivery. It also aligns with the Service Innovation Strategy objective to improve government service delivery, and as departments look at putting more services online, they can look to these survey results for baseline information on where to focus their efforts.

This was just a brief overview of the Citizen First survey. I encourage everyone to read it in its entirety.  It can be found on the Department of Finance website and I will table the survey results later today at the appropriate time.

We are pleased that we received positive results from our first survey and good feedback from residents about where we can improve.  I want to thank all the residents who took part in the survey, because your feedback is very important to us.  I also want to encourage everyone to take part in the next survey, if you are asked, because we are listening!  Finally, I want to take the time to commend all of our public servants on the front line, and their managers, for always keeping our “Citizens First” in mind, every day.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackson Lafferty: Online Child Care Inspection Reports

Tue, 06/02/2015 - 15:39

Mr. Speaker, ensuring the care and safety of children and providing accessible programs and services to families across the Northwest Territories is a top priority of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment identified the need to do a full review of the current licensing system for daycare centres, family day homes and Aboriginal Head Start programs to ensure compliance with legislation as part of Action 6 of the Right from the Start Early Childhood Framework and Action Plan. ECE is responsible for licensing these programs under the NWT Child Day Care Act and Standards and Regulations. As a result of the review, the Department has made licensing reports of child care centres available to the public.

Information from licensing inspections completed after April 1, 2015 will now be posted to ECE’s website in a searchable format. This will encourage child care programs’ continued compliance with the Child Day Care Standards Regulations and give parents and caregivers peace of mind. The Department is always looking to improve the systems in place, and these enhancements will increase transparency and provide parents with valuable information to make informed choices about their child care options.

Mr. Speaker, only six other jurisdictions in Canada provide online child care inspection summaries, putting the NWT among the lead. These improvements are part of the ongoing work by the Departments of Health and Social Services and Education, Culture and Employment on the Right from the Start Early Childhood Development Framework and Action Plan.

Enhancing the quality of licensed early childhood education and care programs contributes to the GNWT’s ongoing efforts to streamline and improve access for families with young children, providing them with the programs and services they need to see their children grow and thrive.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.

David Ramsay: Expansion of Court Programs and Services

Tue, 06/02/2015 - 15:36

Mr. Speaker, in cooperation with the judiciary, the Department of Justice has been supporting specialized courts in Yellowknife since 2011. Specialized courts and their programs provide offenders with an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and get the support that they need to lead healthier lives for themselves and their families.

Today I want to advise Members that in April the Domestic Violence Treatment Option Court, was expanded to Hay River. The DVTO Court, as it is known, is now available for offenders from Hay River, Enterprise and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks to the judiciary for leading the way in the expansion of DVTO Court to the South Slave. As a result the Department is now able to extend related services to these communities, in collaboration with the RCMP and Health and Social Services.

Like the DVTO Court in Yellowknife, offenders must accept responsibility for their actions and be willing to participate in the eight-module PARTNER program to learn how to change their behaviour. Each person remains under court supervision and will return for sentencing by the DVTO judge at the end of the program.

Mr. Speaker, we must take every opportunity possible to reduce the violence that is so destructive to our families and the personal well-being of individuals. The DVTO Court in Hay River, and the PARTNER program that supports it, work with low-risk offenders to break the cycle of domestic violence. We hope to see very positive results.
I would like to advise Members that we have also very recently expanded our Parenting After Separation workshop delivery to communities outside Yellowknife. This program assists parents before they ever make it as far as the court system. People whose marriage is breaking down can often be confused, frustrated or angry. This is frequently compounded when children are involved. The free workshop we have been offering parents for some time helps them make positive transitions through separation or divorce. Difficult issues are discussed and assistance offered for constructive resolutions. This assistance makes this difficult process easier for parents and their children.

On May 28th, the first Parenting After Separation workshop was offered in Behchoko and in Hay River on May 29th. More workshops will be scheduled to meet local interest and demand. The Department also has plans to begin offering this workshop in Fort Smith, Inuvik and Norman Wells in the fall of 2015.

Mr. Speaker, the Department has taken the time to make sure that these programs are effectively meeting the needs of offenders and families. We are pleased that we now have the experience, in addition to the support of the judiciary and other partners, to serve more communities. We support this Assembly’s vision of strong independent people who are safe and secure in their communities. We will continue to provide programming as effectively and efficiently as possible, ensuring that everything is in place for successful outcomes.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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