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Premier McLeod publishes meeting report

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 18:07

YELLOWKNIFE (March 12, 2015) – Premier Bob McLeod has today published a report disclosing his meetings with external parties for the past 14 months. The report is in response to comments the Premier made in the Legislative Assembly last month during debate on a motion proposing a study of a lobbyist registry for the Northwest Territories (NWT).

“The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to being open and transparent as it conducts business on behalf of the people of the NWT,” said Premier McLeod. “We think it is in the public interest to proactively disclose information about meetings between Cabinet Ministers and outside parties so NWT residents have a tool for promoting accountability and better insight into how government does business.”
The report includes a listing of meetings and teleconferences between the Premier and all outside parties, including business leaders, Aboriginal leaders, federal Ministers and foreign dignitaries, as well as information on his attendance at intergovernmental meetings and conferences and other public events where he represents the Government of the Northwest Territories.

The listing does not include information on meetings between Ministers, with Regular Members of the Legislative Assembly, GNWT staff or constituents on constituency business.

Beginning April 1, 2015, information on the Premier’s meetings will be proactively disclosed on a quarterly basis. Plans are being finalized to include information about all Ministers’ meetings in the quarterly reports.

Click here to download the report. 

Media inquiries:
Shaun Dean
Director, Cabinet Communications
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-669-2304
Email: shaun_dean@gov.nt.ca

GNWT releases results of 2014 NWT Patient Experience Satisfaction Questionnaire

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 18:04

YELLOWKNIFE (March 12, 2015) – Minister of Health and Social Services Glen Abernethy tabled the 2014 NWT Patient Experience Satisfaction Questionnaire Report in the Legislative Assembly today. The report highlights the findings of questionnaires completed by people using health care services in the NWT during July and August of 2014.

“The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to helping NWT residents achieve best health by providing the best care,” said Minister Abernethy. “Regularly surveying users on their experience with the NWT health care system, along with other initiatives like our ongoing system reform work, is another way we can continue working towards that vision and the long-term health of our people.”

Some results of the questionnaire included:

• 92 per cent of patients rated the care they received overall as either excellent or good.
• 90 per cent of patients completing the survey found it easy to access services.
• 93 per cent of patients rate the respectfulness of healthcare staff as excellent or good.

The questionnaires gathered feedback from clients on general health care services, health care providers, treatment/procedures, access to services, preventative health, and overall satisfaction.

This is the seventh report to profile client satisfaction with NWT hospitals produced in collaboration by Health and Social Services and territorial Health Authorities.

The report is available on the Department of Health and Social Services website.

Media inquiries:
Damien Healy
Manager, Communications
Department of Health and Social Services
Tel: (867) 920-8927
Email: damien_healy@gov.nt.ca

Bob McLeod: Government of the Northwest Territories United Way Campaign

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 15:42

Mr. Speaker, Northerners have long been known for their generosity and each year the Government of the Northwest Territories employees continue to show their commitment to building stronger, healthier communities by supporting the United Way NWT.

I am very pleased to announce that this year the Government of the Northwest Territories Workplace Campaign raised just over $102,000 dollars.

Mr. Speaker, this is the 12th year of the Campaign and the most successful.  The number of Government of the Northwest Territories staff generosity has doubled and their campaign pledges commit to donating nearly $100 thousand dollars in 2015 through payroll deductions. This is up over $40,000 dollars from the previous campaign.  This makes the Government of the Northwest Territories the biggest corporate donor to United Way NWT, and I am certain we will do even better in the next campaign.

As the Honourary Chair, I am very pleased with this year’s results. I would like to point out that in 2014 the United Way NWT invested over $57,000 in 16 different projects in the NWT.  This year, due to the generosity of so many,  they were able to increase the amount of grants to 21 organizations across the Northwest Territories in the amount of $91,500  dollars. This increase has allowed them to fund projects in Fort Smith, Fort Providence, Hay River, the Sahtu, as well as Inuvik and Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of the Northwest Territories departmental coordinators, who were added this year to assist Senior Management with organizing information and fundraising events during the month-long campaign.  Their enthusiasm for organizing fundraising events and encouraging employees to donate is at the heart of this success.

I would also like to express my appreciation to our colleagues, Tracy St. Denis the chair of the United Way NWT and Deborah Ross, the Government of the Northwest Territories campaign coordinator for their dedication and tireless efforts. They have done much to ensure a promising future for our residents. ‎

Mr. Speaker, there are many others within our public service and communities, who have also donated their time, including our payroll and benefits staff who are essential in making the Government of the Northwest Territories campaign a success.   Together the voluntary efforts of all these people are  great examples of our northern spirit, colleagues helping colleagues, neighbours supporting neighbours, and all of reaching out to provide a helping hand.

We know that every dollar counts. So thank you to the Members of this Assembly and the many donors who have generously supported the United Way NWT.

Change starts right here and together we are making a difference.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

David Ramsay: Support for Manufacturers

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 15:38

Mr. Speaker, the NWT is home to a small, but vibrant, manufacturing sector. We manufacture a range of products in the Northwest Territories – from signs and steel girders, to roof trusses, windows and fibreglass tanks. As other industrial sectors – such as mining, oil and gas, and construction – expand, there are opportunities for expansion within the manufacturing sector.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy identified the potential for strengthening the economic viability of the manufacturing industry and increasing opportunities for investment in the NWT. Today I would like to update Members on the efforts we are making to strengthen, revitalize and grow this important segment of our economy.

Manufacturing in the NWT is supported primarily by allowances in the GNWT’s procurement process, which recognize higher production costs for made-in-the-NWT products.

The GNWT’s Business Incentive Policy and NWT Manufactured Products Policy are designed to help ensure government purchases are made through NWT owned businesses, thereby leveraging this investment into the business and manufacturing sector.

In addition, improved procurement services have been introduced by PWS under their new centralized procurement function, which provides a more streamlined and transparent procurement experience in support of the manufacturing sector.

Mr. Speaker, we are also developing new promotional materials to increase industry and public awareness of existing manufacturers and their products – and for the NWT Manufactured Products Policy. We will continue to expand the presence and profile of our manufacturing industry on our website, in the media and in our economy.

We have also taken steps to re-establish the NWT Manufacturers Association as a voice for this sector and a forum through which we can seek guidance and input for future planning and investment in support of this sector.

I am pleased to say we are meeting manufacturers on their own turf – in January in Hay River, and most recently this past Friday in Yellowknife, the department heads from our primary procurement departments toured local manufacturing facilities.

This gave us the opportunity to share information and we were able to learn from the business owners about their challenges and successes, and how we can work together to expand the support network to the manufacturing sector, which in turn will lead to business development and economic growth.

In the coming months we will be identifying and taking actions to connect potential users of made-in-the-NWT products with the NWT manufacturing community. We will be reaching into the business community to identify new and potential manufacturing opportunities.

Manufacturing in the NWT has significant potential for growth, Mr. Speaker, and the GNWT is very committed to supporting this industry in order to realize its full potential.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bob McLeod: Transparency and Accountability

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 15:38

The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to openness and transparency in conducting its business on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories. In support of this I am publishing a list of all meetings and teleconferences I have had with external parties, including my participation at intergovernmental meetings and conferences, as well as public events.

These reports will provide more information than would typically be on a lobbyist registry. They identify all meetings with external parties not just those with paid lobbyists, of which there are very few in the Northwest Territories.

As I have said before Mr. Speaker, all of this information was available upon request. However, we recognize that an active offer of information can sometimes not meet the needs or resources of those interested in finding out information. Publishing these reports is an important step in demonstrating our commitment to transparency and to serving the people of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, as Premier, I am proud to work for the people of the Northwest Territories. Not only with Members of this House but with our many Aboriginal government partners, business and industry, Non-Governmental Organizations, Provinces and Territories, the Federal government and many more. I believe this listing shows how important partnerships are to the future of the Northwest Territories.

Beginning April 1, 2015, information on Cabinet Ministers’ external meetings will be published on a quarterly basis to promote continued transparency. While I have provided a retrospective report on all my external meetings, the first report of all Cabinet Ministers meetings for the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year will be published in July.

Later today, I will be tabling a complete list of all meetings I have had with external parties from January, 2014 to February, 2015.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

David Ramsay: Release of Northwest Territories Film Strategy

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 15:33

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to salute the members of our local film and television industry. This industry is built on the dedicated efforts of businesses and individuals in the NWT who are committed to telling our stories to the world and contribute nearly $10 million to the NWT’s Gross Domestic Product annually.

In order to strengthen the economic viability of the Northwest Territories’ film and media arts industry and increase opportunities for investment, we need a comprehensive plan.

Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling a new strategy titled Take One: Northwest Territories Film Strategy and Action Plan. This Strategy will guide the planning and implementation of policies, investments and actions by our government to realize the economic potential of the NWT’s film and media arts sector, to achieve greater recognition for our local productions, and to market our territory as a destination of choice for future out-of-territory productions.

The NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy identified the potential for strengthening the economic viability of the film and media arts industry and increasing opportunities for investment in the NWT.

It highlighted the need for a definitive NWT film strategy to guide government investment, support business opportunities and stimulate economic growth.

Film and television productions do more than generate employment and spending for actors, technical staff and suppliers of goods and services. They also provide significant social benefits involving traditional knowledge, cultural preservation, youth empowerment, community pride and storytelling.

Furthermore, film tourism is a growing phenomenon internationally, and one we want to nurture in the Northwest Territories. It will help us to showcase our incredible landscapes, cultures, traditions and iconic landmarks to the world.

The NWT Film Strategy focuses on five key areas. These include: strengthening government and industry roles and partnerships; enhancing funding and financial support; developing the skills and competencies of NWT film producers; assisting in building infrastructure; and developing efficient and effective marketing and communications.

Some of these actions are already underway. Through the Support to Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Policy, the GNWT provides $100,000 annually to support NWT filmmakers, an improvement was made to the funding categories last year to better reflect the stages through which a film is developed. Last month we also announced up to $200,000 in 2015-16 for the NWT Film Rebate Program, a new pilot program aimed at increasing film production activity throughout the NWT. It introduces, for the first time in the NWT, incentives to film on-location in our territory, and an increased incentive for productions filming outside of Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, the NWT Professional Media Association, NWT Tourism and Western Arctic Moving Pictures for their ongoing assistance; and the individuals, businesses, associations, governments, film commissions, production companies, guest producers and industry stakeholders who provided valuable input and perspectives during the consultation phase of the NWT Film Strategy.

I would also like to recognize the partnership and funding support of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Mr. Speaker, we have a vision of a strong and prosperous territory with a diversified economy and the film industry has an important role to play in that. We look forward to putting the Film Strategy’s recommendations in place over the next five years, in a manner that supports the integrity of the Northwest Territories’ unique film and media arts industry, and creates the environment needed for it to flourish locally and participate globally.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

22 cottage lots to be made available for leasing outside of Yellowknife

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 15:50

YELLOWKNIFE (March 11, 2015) – People looking to build a cabin along the Ingraham Trail may enter their name into the open ballot draw coming up later this summer.  Minister of Lands Robert C. McLeod made the announcement in the Legislative Assembly today.

“The Department of Lands is responding to what we have been hearing from northern residents, both in the past and more recently during the Recreational Land Management Framework (RLMF) meetings,” said Minister McLeod. “By holding a ballot draw along this portion of the Ingraham Trail, we meet some of the demand for recreational-type leases in a way that also sustains present and future generations.”

The 22 vacant lots are located in six pre-surveyed subdivisions. Two leases are on Reid Lake, seven on Tibbitt Lake, five on Peninsula Lake, one on Pontoon Lake, six on Prelude Lake and one on Madeline Lake. None of these subdivisions are within the areas withdrawn through the Akaitcho Interim Measures Agreement.

The remainder of the RLMF Focus Area along Highway 3 and the Ingraham Trail remains closed to new recreational leases.

The Department of Lands has been holding meetings to seek public input into the development of a Recreational Land Management Framework for the Northwest Territories. This work will help ensure the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) administers and manages recreational land leases in a way that balances northern interests, and respects Aboriginal and treaty rights. It also meets one of the 17th Assembly’s priorities by building a strong and sustainable future for our territory by working with partners to ensure responsible stewardship through our land management regime.

The decision to open 22 pre-existing vacant cottage lots along the Ingraham Trail stems from the Minister’s commitment to examine options for managing vacant, previously surveyed lots within existing subdivisions along the Ingraham Trail. Environmental factors, Aboriginal rights and public feedback gathered to date from the RLMF consultations were carefully considered in the decision.

Further details on the leases, including lease rates and other requirements, as well as information on how to enter the draw, will be advertised widely and made available on the Department of Lands website at www.lands.gov.nt.ca on May 1, 2015. The open ballot draw will take place in the summer of 2015.

Media inquiries:

Roya Grinsted
Communications Officer
Government of the NWT
Tel: 867-669-2308
Email: roya_grinsted@gov.nt.ca

Robert C. McLeod: Recreational Land Management Framework Progress

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 15:33

Mr. Speaker, Northwest Territories residents take great pride in the beauty of their land and want to see the Department of Lands managing it in a fair, transparent and consistent way. The development of new recreational leasing policies that respond to the needs of our residents is a priority for the Department.

Lands is committed to finalizing its Recreational Land Management Framework by mid-2016. This Framework will apply to both Commissioner’s land and newly devolved Territorial land. The policies and planning that make up the Framework will address the current and future recreational needs of residents across the NWT, and will be consistent with the Land Use and Sustainability Framework.

Over the past two months, departmental staff have held public meetings to ask residents what matters most to them about recreational land management. Nine public meetings were held in eight communities. We also collected online submissions. The information gathered from NWT residents will guide the writing of the draft policies and plans for the Recreational Land Management Framework. The Department of Lands will share the draft policies later this year with Aboriginal governments, the public, and other stakeholders for additional feedback before finalizing the Framework.

This past fall, the Department committed to evaluating options for managing vacant previously surveyed lots in existing subdivisions along the Ingraham Trail that have become vacant for a variety of reasons. The research, consultation and public engagement work done to date has informed the Department’s review of its options with these subdivisions. Residents have told us that they care deeply about environmental sustainability and also want more access to recreational areas.

After consulting with the Akaitcho and Tłı̨chǫ governments, the NWT Métis Nation, the North Slave Métis Alliance, the general public and other stakeholders, and upon further review and research by the Department, I would like to announce that Department of Lands will be making 22 vacant parcels in previously surveyed recreational subdivisions along the Ingraham Trail available for lease. The lottery process for leasing these lots will be done in an open, fair and transparent manner in the early summer. Information on the lot locations and lottery process will be posted on the Department of Land’s website on May 1st and will be advertised through the local media.

This decision is only possible because already-surveyed lots have become available. There is still a moratorium on issuing new recreational leases within the focus area along Highways No.3 and No.4 until the Recreational Land Management Framework is completed.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Lands’ Recreational Land Management Framework will ensure a clear and fair process for recreational leasing of rural land across the Northwest Territories. Once completed, the Department’s goal is to identify potential new areas suitable for leasing or sale. We will ensure Aboriginal rights are respected. As well, we will ensure rural land across the NWT is used responsibly and sustainably.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

J. Michael Miltenberger: Renewed GNWT Approach to Conservation Planning in the Northwest Territories

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 15:43

Mr. Speaker, with more than 4, 338 interrelated species and counting, the state of biodiversity in the Northwest Territories provides us a rare chance unavailable in most other regions in Canada or the world—the ability to proactively plan a healthy future for land, water, wildlife and people. Our land, rich in biodiversity, contributes to the high quality of life we all enjoy in the NWT. Our food security and traditional economy rely on maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem integrity in the North. Making sure land in the NWT remains healthy for future generations is a priority of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

A key premise of devolution is that decisions influencing our economy and environment are best guided and managed by the people who live here. As such, the GNWT developed the Land Use and Sustainability Framework for lands management. This means making balanced, collaborative decisions respectful of Aboriginal and treaty rights in the context of sound environmental stewardship. To do this, we consider ecological, social, cultural and economic values in our decision-making to ensure maximum benefits to current and future generations.

We acknowledge the significant contributions of our regional and community partners through the Protected Areas Strategy. We have worked together to successfully define the natural capital of many special areas, initiate discussions on the management and monitoring of candidate areas, and in many instances, have begun the important collaborative decision-making phase of the establishment process.

We are proceeding with a made-in-the-North approach to conservation planning to ensure biodiversity and ecosystem integrity are maintained into the future. Devolution has provided an opportunity for the people of the NWT to create new conservation areas using ‘Northern Tools’, allowing for increased participation in and accountability for the management of these areas.

We have adapted conservation science methods used elsewhere in Canada and around the world to identify the NWT’s ecologically representative core areas and assess gaps. We will work with communities to outline mutual objectives for territorial designations, shared governance and management. Objectives that support balanced land management decisions made collaboratively by Northerners, and fit within a broad comprehensive conservation planning approach. One that includes land use planning, park and protected areas establishment, and ecological representation network planning. Collectively, these initiatives will ensure the progress of responsible economic development in the context of sound environmental stewardship.

As we proceed with our Northern approach to conservation planning, we will be looking for partners. Some of the most successful initiatives in the NWT, such as the transboundary water negotiations, the Species at Risk Conference of Management Authorities, or the new Wildlife Act, were only possible through collaboration. We know that in order to be successful, to create the best conservation network possible, true collaboration and partnerships must continue.

The timing is right to prepare for our future. It is important to take advantage of the science behind best practices, such as ecological representation for managing land use and creating core areas, and combine it with traditional knowledge from our Aboriginal partners. When we work together using the best information available, we ensure the development of a culturally, environmentally and economically sustainable Northwest Territories.

People of the NWT want a healthy land for their grandchildren. The NWT has a rare opportunity to be a leader in conservation, and apply lessons learned elsewhere in the world and across Canada to achieve sustainable resource management. It is far more efficient to preserve land now than try to restore land later. A new NWT conservation network not only maintains our unique northern landscapes, it also provides more clarity and certainty for developers, industry, residents of the NWT and beyond.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackson Lafferty: Improving the Income Security Program

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 15:42

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment provides a better quality of life for some of the most vulnerable residents of the Northwest Territories through its Income Security Program. I’d like to speak today about a significant improvement that is being made to the Income Assistance Program, as well as two very important initiatives that are underway.

Starting in April 2015, Income Assistance clients will receive more money for food and incidental expenses. These benefits will continue to increase each year for the next four years. The increases to these benefits will allow our clients to receive benefit levels that reflect the actual cost of healthy foods for their families regardless of the community they live in. Healthy, educated people who are free from poverty is a goal of this Assembly, and making this vital enhancement to the Income Assistance Program will help meet this goal.

I am also pleased to report on a joint initiative that is underway with our colleagues at the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. ECE will be transferring the NWT Housing Corporation responsibility for administration of 75 market housing units available to Income Assistance clients. There will be 55 units in Yellowknife, ten units in Inuvik, and ten units in Hay River. Income Assistance clients in these units will have reduced rent, and resources are being transferred from ECE to the NWTHC to operate them, so it will be cost neutral to the GNWT. People in these units will also experience an easier transition to the workforce due to the Housing Corporation’s graduated rent to income scheme.

Mr. Speaker, I’ve said before that our people are our territory’s greatest resource. Having more skilled NWT residents entering the workforce will strengthen our economy.

We are working to improve the NWT labour force through the creation of five new Employment Officer positions. These positions will provide individual support to employable Income Assistance clients so they are able to gain employment or enter into training programs. The intent of these new positions is to further reduce Income Assistance caseloads, which have continued to decrease over the past five years.

Mr. Speaker, addressing high living costs and giving Northerners the tools they need to find and keep work, including stable housing, are priorities for this government. I am proud of the innovative approaches and work completed to support and contribute to this Assembly’s goals of Northerners leading healthy successful lives free from poverty.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Bob McLeod: Passing of Tom Butters

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 15:32

Mr. Speaker, the North lost one of the true pioneers of governance in the NWT with the passing of Tom Butters. Tom served in the Legislative Assembly from 1970 to 1991. As one of the longest serving MLAs in the North his respectful and steady approach was admired by those who served with him.

The flags outside the Legislative Assembly have been lowered to half- mast today out of respect for Tom Butters and all he did for the people of the Northwest Territories.

Born in Vancouver, B.C. in 1925, Mr. Butters moved North in 1947. He was a prospector in the Yukon and worked on the Alaska Highway with the Department of National Defence before joining the federal Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources as a northern services officer in Ottawa, Churchill and Baker Lake.

He moved to Inuvik in 1961 and became regional administrator in 1963. He left the government two years later to establish the local weekly newspaper, the Drum (now the Inuvik Drum) to serve the Inuvik area, and he established a travel business in the Western Arctic. Tom also served a term on Inuvik town council, where he was deputy mayor, before running in the 1970 territorial election.

Tom Butters was elected five times by the people of Inuvik and served in 13 different Ministerial portfolios including:

• Minister of Natural and Cultural Affairs
• Minister of Economic Development and Tourism
• Minister of Social Services
• Minister of Health
• Minister of Education, Justice and Public Services
• Minister of the Public Utilities Board
• Minister of Finance
• Minister of Government Services
• Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Secretariat
• Minister of Housing Corporation
• Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs

It was during his time as Finance Minister that Tom took on the responsibility for the GNWT finances. Until that time the Commissioner, appointed by Ottawa, had controlled the financial portfolio. Tom worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth transition. Notably it was during his tenure as Minister that Northern Residents Tax Deduction was introduced.

Tom was a hard worker, and famous for his early breakfast meetings, something that appears to be a necessary characteristic for any Finance Minister. He was a very good listener and a fair man. He was soft-spoken, open to others’ ideas and treated everyone with respect.

It is fitting, and certainly no coincidence, that such a man played a key part in the independence of the Northwest Territories. This earned him membership in the Order of Canada in 1994.

Mr. Speaker, I invite Members to join me in thanking Tom Butters for all he contributed to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut – for the legacy he left every one of us, even those who never met him.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

NWT winter road system is now complete

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 17:10

YELLOWKNIFE (March 09, 2015) – The winter road to Wekweètì opens today, completing the NWT’s public winter road system and significantly improving connections between communities and families.

“The complete winter road system reduces the cost of living and supports Northern businesses,” said Minister of Transportation Tom Beaulieu. “Northerners, industry, and tourists rely on highways to move safely and efficiently around our territory. Our winter roads increase communities’ connections to each other while protecting the environment, ensuring our land can continue to sustain all of our people.”

In the winter months 1627 kilometres of winter roads are added to the 2200 kilometres of permanent highways that connect 16 communities year-round. The complete 3827-kilometre road system connects 29 communities during the winter. Privately maintained winter roads from public highways to job sites further increase access to resource-rich parts of the territory, making northern businesses more competitive in a global economy.

This year, investments in the river connections along the Dempster Highway provided near-continuous highway service to Inuvik during freeze-up for the first time ever. Both ferries operated 24 hours a day while ice bridges were built nearby. This lowered the cost of living, improved mobility and provided more secure energy resupply to the Beaufort-Delta. Partnerships with industry in the Sahtu have allowed for increased efforts to construct the Mackenzie Valley Winter Road, allowing equipment to move through the region earlier.

“We are world leaders in Arctic construction, and our vision is to connect Northerners permanently by building permanent roads where we now build winter roads,” said Minister Beaulieu. “This work started last winter near the Arctic coast, where the Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk Highway is under construction. The Mackenzie Valley Winter Road follows the route that will one day permanently connect the new road from Tuktoyaktuk to the southern NWT.”

Investments in transportation infrastructure support the priorities of the 17th Legislative Assembly by connecting northerners to each other and increasing their well-being and prosperity. Improved highway access to communities strengthens and diversifies the NWT economy, making northern businesses more competitive and lowering the cost of living.

Media inquiries:

Nick Hurst
Communications Coordinator
Department of Transportation, GNWT
(867) 873-7956
Email: nick_hurst@gov.nt.ca

Premier McLeod marks International Women’s Day

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 17:08

Yellowknife (March 9, 2015) – Premier Bob McLeod, Minister Responsible for Women, marked International Women’s Day at the annual Bread and Roses luncheon hosted by the Status of Women Council of the NWT yesterday.

“In the Northwest Territories, we have made great strides for women’s equality,” said Premier McLeod. “We have many powerful women leaders who have not only contributed to their communities, but who have shaped the future of the NWT. More and more women are employed in jobs that historically only men have done, expanding opportunities, as well as social and economic prosperity.”

Each year, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur internationally to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Premier McLeod thanked the Status of Women Council of the NWT for the work they do to support women’s equality in the North, as well as the YWCA, the Tree of Peace, the Centre for Northern Families and the Native Women’s Association of the NWT. The Premier also recognized Dene Nahjo, an organization run by young Dene women leaders that recently held a circumpolar women’s leadership conference in Yellowknife.

Premier McLeod also offered his congratulations to the recipients of the Status of Women Wise Women Awards that were given out at the luncheon. The 2015 winners are Pertice Moffitt (North Slave), Annie B. Gordon (Beaufort/Delta), Judy Lafferty (Sahtu), Maggie Sikyea (South Slave) and Caroline Bonnetrouge (Deh Cho).

“We must avoid becoming complacent and entrenched in old ways of thinking,” said Premier McLeod. “While great strides have been made, there are still people in our broader society who do not value women and girls.”

Premier McLeod recently chaired the National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Ottawa. The Roundtable was the first time in Canadian history that all Provinces and Territories, the Federal Government, and all five National Aboriginal Organizations have met.

“It is important to promote women’s equality on an ongoing basis,” said Premier McLeod. “Without a shared understanding of the abilities and value of females in our society, we will continue to experience the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”

David Ramsay: Office of Auditor General’s Report and Justice Updates

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 15:33

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Justice is committed to this Assembly’s goals of healthy, educated people and vibrant, safe communities. We contribute to achieving these goals by offering a range of programs and services that give individuals the tools and support they need to address the challenges and poor choices that often result in criminal charges and incarceration. As with any organization, we are always looking for ways – big and small – to improve our programs and services to better help people make healthy choices. Given that commitment, we welcome the report and recommendations of the Auditor General tabled in this House last week.

This performance audit provides us with valuable feedback on our programs and services, many of which are consistent with our own recent observations and the continuing evolution of corrections across Canada. I have accepted all of the recommendations in the Auditor General’s Report. I can assure everyone we will address the issues raised. The OAG recommendations allow us to refine and focus our ongoing work to modernize and continue to improve support for inmates and to ensure public safety.

Earlier this Session I spoke about the Performance Assurance and Accountability Framework the Department is advancing. This Framework will be fully implemented by 2016 and will address how we support our staff as they carry out their duties. It will address the ethics and values they bring to their work, inject accountability into the processes in our system, and allow us to apply policies and directives efficiently and effectively using best correctional practises.

We have a strong commitment to do whatever we can to prepare those who enter Northwest Territories Correctional facilities to come back to live in our communities. We believe that people want to live full and productive lives and we will fulfill our role to offer every opportunity for that to happen. We also know we cannot support change by ourselves. It takes the support of you as leaders, our communities and many other service providers.

One of the reasons we work so hard to keep NWT residents here in the North is so they can get support from their families, their communities and ourselves as they work to change their lives. Keeping inmates in the NWT means they can continue to access cultural land activities, traditional and Elder counsellors, healing and spiritual ceremonies that are effective and speak to the healing that NWT residents need to advance their rehabilitation.

I look forward to discussing the Auditor General’s Report and the work that we are doing in Corrections in more detail with the Standing Committee on Government Operations during the hearings in May.

Corrections is only one part of the equation, Mr. Speaker. Helping people make better choices that keep them out of trouble with the law is another critical aspect of our work. I would like to tell Members today about some of the other actions the Department is taking to find solutions for our residents besides entering a Correctional facility.

As Members know, the Wellness Court began sitting in Yellowknife last year, with the support of partners in the Public Prosecution Service and the judiciary. This alternative court focuses on the offender rather than the offence. It addresses people’s underlying issues, such as drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness and cognitive challenges. Through this program, individuals receive help to address their specific needs in the community rather than in a Correctional environment.

The first sitting of the Wellness Court occurred on October 2, 2014 and it continues to sit every second Thursday. As of late February there are five people participating in the program and 13 individuals have been referred. The Department continues to refine the program with the judiciary, as well as with other GNWT departments and community stakeholders.

I also want Members to know of a new development with another specialized court, the Domestic Violence Treatment Court. The eight-week program to support this Court has been running in Yellowknife since 2011. It provides low-risk offenders who have accepted responsibility for their actions peaceful alternatives to violence in their domestic relationships. Training sessions for staff are scheduled to start this month and, by the end of April, this valuable program will be offered to residents of Hay River, the Katlodeeche First Nation and Enterprise.

Members will also want to know that we have established an agreement with the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre in Yellowknife to once again provide a healing program for men who use violence in their intimate relationships. “A New Day” healing program is a part of larger system of accountability and safety to provide men with an alternative way of behaving with their partners and children. It was developed specifically for NWT residents with input and support from the Coalition Against Family Violence. To date, we have 12 clients who are attending individualized counselling sessions and 20 men who have been referred to the program.

Mr. Speaker, I remain committed to supporting the people of this territory and ensuring the Department of Justice is providing the best programs and services possible, delivered by our dedicated and professional staff. This recent report of the Auditor General was timely and will help further focus the work we were already doing to improve our offerings. We are confident this work will be done and I look forward to providing updates to Members as we proceed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bob McLeod: International Women’s Day 2015

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 12:16

Mr. Speaker, all around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality.

Each year International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8. The first International Women’s Day was held in 1911. Thousands of events occur to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women. Organizations, governments, charities, educational institutions, women’s groups, corporations and the media celebrate the day.

In the Northwest Territories we have made great strides for women’s equality. We have many powerful women leaders who have not only contributed to their communities but who have shaped the future of the Northwest Territories. More and more women are employed in jobs that historically only men have done. The Government of the Northwest Territories continues to promote capable women to senior management and other positions of influence within our government.

The Status of Women Council continues their good work to support more women to run for election. I was pleased to attend the 2015 Campaign School and speak with many of the women and their supporters who will be running in the next Territorial election. Having balanced representation in this House and in other leadership positions allows us to be stronger and wiser together.

This weekend the Status of Women Council will host the annual Wise Women Awards and I will be attending to offer my congratulations to the many wise women from across the Northwest Territories.

Other organizations in the Northwest Territories like the Native Women’s Association contribute to women’s equality through their support programs and advocacy work. I would also like to recognize the new and dynamic organization Dene Nahjo who recently held a circumpolar women’s leadership here in Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, when we support equality for women we support equality for all our residents, strong individuals, families and communities sharing the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories.

Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for International Women’s Say, encouraging effective action for advancing and recognizing women. I encourage all Members of this House and those listening today to consider how they can Make It Happen.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Robert C. McLeod: Canada Winter Games

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 12:13

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to recognize the members of Team Northwest Territories who represented our territory at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, British Columbia from February 13 to March 1. The 139 athletes, coaches and mission staff were from 11 communities in the Northwest Territories including Aklavik, Deline, Fort McPherson, Fort Providence, Fort Simpson, Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik, N’dilo, Sachs Harbour and Yellowknife.

They participated in the sports of badminton, biathlon, cross country skiing, curling, hockey, figure skating, judo, shooting, speed skating and squash. I know that each and every one of them trained hard and did their very best to represent the NWT and their communities at this premier national event. I would like to make special mention of Brent Betsina of N’dilo, who brought home the silver medal in Judo, the NWT’s first medal at the Games since Brendan Green’s win in 2007.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to report that the City of Yellowknife and officials from MACA were in Prince George to gather information related to the consideration of a bid by the City to host the 2023 Canada Games. Earlier this year, Mayor Mark Heyck and I launched a public process to inform and advise the citizens of Yellowknife of the benefits that hosting the Games could bring to the City and the NWT. The Mayor is also leading a task force to develop a business case for City Council’s review that will examine what resources will be needed to successfully host the Games. I am looking forward to assisting and expressing our Government’s full support for hosting the Games in Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories will also be hosting the 2018 Arctic Winter Games. Just last month the Arctic Winter Games International Committee visited Inuvik and Hay River / Fort Smith to review bids from those communities.
These will be the first Arctic Winter Games held outside of Yellowknife since the 1978 Hay River – Pine Point Games.

I am confident that regardless of the community that wins the bid, the real winner will be the sport community and youth in our communities. Ensuring NWT residents are able to participate in and experience these important multisport games is one way we are supporting healthy educated people in communities across our territory.

In closing Mr. Speaker, I want to thank and recognize the parents, coaches, managers, sport officials and Sport North staff and volunteers for their tireless work in preparing our Canada Games team. I also want to thank and recognize the City of Yellowknife, the towns of Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik and the communities in those regions supporting the 2023 and 2018 Games events.

Thank You, Mr. Speaker

Tom Beaulieu: 24-Hour Airport Weather Information

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 12:10

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to recognize the recent and ongoing improvements made by NAV CANADA at 17 of our airport sites with Community Aerodrome Radio Stations and at Wekweeti and Colville Lake Airports.

NAV CANADA is the private corporation responsible for civil air navigation services and weather within Canadian airspace. It has recently invested in the weather observation systems at 19 of our airports in the NWT. This improved weather information; now available 24-hours a day and 365 days a year, will support safer and more effective air transportation services for our communities and residents. The Department of Transportation has assisted NAV CANADA in these installations by providing land, material, and construction and coordination assistance.

Mr. Speaker, reliable weather data is critical to airport and air carrier efficiency and safety. Airline operators make decisions on whether to fly or not based on available weather information. In a potentially critical situation, such as a medevac flight, the availability of current and accurate weather information allows operators to make flight decisions quickly.

The changes made by NAV CANADA mean pilots can now rely on improved data and tailor their flight schedules to respond to weather conditions with a higher degree of confidence. The new weather observation systems can operate in an unattended mode to deliver sufficient, real time, accurate weather 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. This information will be accessible even when Community Aerodrome Radio Stations are closed for any reason.

In addition, the new automated weather observation systems in Colville Lake and Wekweeti provide cameras which can be accessed remotely to provide airline operators with views of the airport and runway without ever leaving their offices.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that all 27 airports in the NWT now have access to weather information that is no more than 75 nautical miles from their sites.

The real-time, accurate weather data provided through these investments to the Weather Observation Systems will benefit our residents and communities through improved air services between communities and allow for improved decision-making and faster response times by the medevac service contractor.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation continues to work with our partners, such as NAV CANADA and airline operators, to make improvements to our air transportation system.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Glen Abernethy: Our Elders, Our Communities: Advancing the Framework

Fri, 03/06/2015 - 12:05

Mr. Speaker, last May we presented Our Elders: Our Communities, a Strategic Framework outlining the Government’s commitment to support Elders and Seniors who wish to live in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, and ensure that services are available when this option is no longer viable.

As the backbone of our communities, Elders and Seniors should be supported and given the best care possible. Seniors are the fastest growing population in the Northwest Territories. Over the past decade, the Seniors’ demographic has grown at a rate of more than five per cent per year, and this trend will continue. Meeting the health care and social needs of Elders and Seniors is a high priority for our government.

Our Elders: Our Communities gives us a framework to identify gaps in our system, and where we need to take action.  Priority areas include: home and community care services; integrated and coordinated service delivery; caregiver supports; Elder-responsive communities; accessible and current information; and sustainable best practices.

The guiding principles within Our Elders, Our Communities strengthen the development of programs, services and supports to Seniors and Elders.  There are seven key principles:

Choice, means knowing that seniors can make or be an active participant in making ones’ own choices.

Respect and dignity, means that we treat Elders in a manner that imparts value, importance and self-worth.

Equity, acknowledges and celebrates the unique characteristics of Elders.

Awareness, promotes community, regional and territorial programs and services aimed at keeping Elders in their communities

Access, ensures Elders have access to culturally appropriate services and support, and access to information that allows individuals to be knowledgeable and to make informed decisions about healthy options available.

Safety, stresses safe, supportive and secure environments free of fear, exploitation and violence.

Finally, Empowerment, which refers to providing opportunities for Elders to continue to reach their full potential, with access to educational, cultural, spiritual and recreational resources, and to continue to make a positive contribution in their communities.

These principles align with the Rights set out in the Northwest Territories Seniors Charter and, together with our priority areas, provide a roadmap for the development of programs and services to support healthy and active aging within Elder-responsive communities across the Northwest Territories.

By taking action in areas identified in the Framework, we will help Elders and Seniors remain in their communities as long as possible.  The Department of Health and Social Services continues to engage the Health and Social Services Authorities and Avens – A Community for Seniors, to advance shared work in areas such as training in palliative care and approaches to care that focus on the needs of the Elder, and developing policies to support the implementation of new Continuing Care Standards. We’re also planning for new long-term care beds across the Northwest Territories, including Avens in Yellowknife.

The Department is also working with the Health and Social Services Authorities to enhance home care services.  Currently, home support is available in most NWT communities and home care is available in communities with nursing staff. Elders’ day programs are available in several communities, which provide an opportunity for Elders to socialize and have a nutritious meal, as well as participate in Elders in Motion, an active living program offered by the NWT Parks and Recreation Association.  Keeping healthy, active, and connected to each other is critical to wellbeing and programs like these play an important role in Elders’ lives.

I am pleased to report that new facilities are being built and resources are being developed to help Seniors achieve a high quality of life. The Department of Health and Social Services is working with the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation to address independent housing needs in our communities, and incorporate space for home care and Elders’ day programs into the designs for new Seniors’ housing units.

Any improvements to our programs are not possible without partnerships.  The Department of Health and Social Services has also been working with the NWT Seniors Society and the Departments of Justice, Municipal and Community Affairs, Education, Culture and Employment, and the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation to update the Seniors’ Information Handbook.  We are also developing a companion booklet for caregivers.

The Seniors’ Information Handbook provides a comprehensive list of government programs and services that seniors and their caregivers can access to help them make informed decisions and remain independent and active in their home communities.

The companion Caregiver Booklet will provide information to assist families caring for their loved ones. The plan is to release these documents this spring.

Another example of collaboration is the Aurora Research Institute’s recently released report titled “Influences on Quality of Life of the Older Adult” in the Northwest Territories. Working directly with the NWT Seniors’ Society and communities, Aurora College faculty and students gathered valuable, current information on the quality of life of Seniors and Elders across the Northwest Territories that can help support informed decision-making and direction for leadership, advocacy, education and research.  Later today I will table this report.

Taking action in priority areas to improve the programs and services for Elders will not be a short-term undertaking, Mr. Speaker.  The Department’s work is ongoing and will continue through transition.  We have established numerous partnerships to help ensure Seniors receive the support they need. As we move forward, we will continue engagement with Aboriginal governments, non-governmental organizations and community members to ensure our programs and services are delivered in the best way possible.

Together, we are working toward our vision of aging in place, and Best Health, Best Care and a Better Future for residents of the Northwest Territories.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

GNWT contributes $400,000 in ground ambulance and highway rescue funding

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 15:51

YELLOWKNIFE (March 5, 2015) – The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) continues to support community government projects that promote public safety by increasing response capability of local fire and ambulance services through the Ground Ambulance and Highway Rescue Funding Program. In 2014/15, the GNWT provided $400,000 in funding to communities through this program, an increase of $200,000 from previous years. Additional improvements to the program include raising the maximum amount of funding per community to $50,000, including minor capital infrastructure projects as eligible expenses and allowing multi-year projects.

“Providing resources to community governments so they can improve their local fire and ambulance services is an important part of improving public safety in the Northwest Territories,” said Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs Robert C. McLeod. “Expanding the funding available under this program and also providing more options for how recipients can use the funds helps community governments address their unique  needs. ”

Since 2007, this program has provided over $1.5 million to community governments for initiatives such as new ground ambulance or highway rescue vehicles, emergency medical responder training, casualty trauma kit supplies, off-site crash kit supplies and more.

“The ground ambulance and highway rescue funding, in conjunction with the basic training that the volunteers have received, will provide us with the necessary skills, transportation and equipment to treat, mobilize and transport patients in a safe manner,” said Patrick Simon, Deputy Mayor of the Hamlet of Fort Resolution.

“The City of Yellowknife appreciates the additional funding used towards emergency response capabilities along NWT Highways near our community.  These additional resources help Yellowknife play a stronger role in the region in the area of emergency support services,” said Mark Heyck, Mayor of the City of Yellowknife.

In 2014-15, the GNWT has allocated $400,000 to support the following community government projects:

  • Yellowknife – Rescue vehicle and equipment
  • Hay River – Ambulance
  • Fort Smith – Rescue equipment
  • Fort Simpson – Highway rescue vehicle
  • Fort Resolution – Highway rescue vehicle
  • Fort McPherson – Ambulance and equipment
  • Inuvik – Rescue equipment
  • Behchoko – Training and communications equipment

An Interdepartmental Advisory Committee composed of the Departments of Municipal and Community Affairs, Justice, Transportation and Health and Social Services was established in 2011 to implement the GNWT’s Ground Ambulance, Highway and Remote Medical Rescue Services Strategy to support and strengthen delivery of community-based ground ambulance, highway rescue and medical remote rescue services in the NWT.

The Ground Ambulance and Highway Rescue Funding Program helps build response capacity in communities and contributes to sustainable, vibrant, and safe communities as outlined in the 17th Legislative Assembly’s vision of Believing in People and Building on the Strengths of Northerners.

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

Glen Abernethy: Social Work Month

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 15:40

Mr. Speaker, each year we celebrate March as National Social Work Month. Social work is a profession for those with a passion to help improve people’s lives. Social Workers help individuals, families and communities by providing support and resources and working through challenging and complex circumstances.

Social Workers can work directly with individuals to provide counselling services or other supports. They also contribute to the broader improvement of our Territory through policy development and helping to improve the way services are provided and delivered at the community level.

Social Workers have an ethical obligation to advocate for broad social change to address social inequalities that will benefit the marginalized members of our communities, and ultimately, all of us.

When families are in crisis, Social Workers are there to help people get back on their feet. Social Workers show outstanding dedication and professionalism to help people achieve success and realize their best selves. The hours are tough, as help is required around the clock.

Social Work requires determination, devotion and a sense of purpose to make a real difference for people in need, and I have seen many positive outcomes as a result of Social Workers’ efforts.

For these reasons and many more, Social Work is being celebrated this year as a Profession of Choice. As the Minister of Health and Social Services, I want to express how much the Government of the Northwest Territories appreciates professional social work not just during Social Work Month, but every day.

I am pleased to have this extra opportunity to celebrate these outstanding professionals and express the Government of the Northwest Territories’ recognition and thanks for all their hard work on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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