Northwest Territories News

S'abonner à flux Northwest Territories News Northwest Territories News
Life's Better at the Cabin
Mis à jour : il y a 8 heures 30 min

Robert C. McLeod: Safe Communities

jeu, 03/05/2015 - 15:32

Mr. Speaker, three years ago, the 17th Legislative Assembly made it a priority to establish sustainable, vibrant, safe communities. Today, I want to speak about some of the work being done by the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs to help reach that goal by strengthening community emergency preparedness and fire protection.

In the past 12 months, NWT communities have experienced some extreme events that have tested their ability to respond to natural disasters and community fire incidents. These events can occur at any time and in any place, with or without warning. Effective response requires a continual planning and capacity building.

Mr. Speaker, emergency preparedness and community fire protection are critical. Our collective efforts need to focus on helping communities reach a suitable level of readiness. To this end, MACA is committed to several important goals that will help create and sustain a foundation with which to support and strengthen community preparedness and response.

MACA continues its efforts to help community governments improve community emergency management capacity. This includes the delivery of community planning workshops and table top exercises. Since 2011, 20 communities have updated their existing emergency response plans or created new ones. Last year, MACA launched a new table top exercise in Whati, which is now available to communities to help validate emergency plans.

Mr. Speaker, work continues at the territorial level as well. Recently, MACA began a review of the government’s civil emergency response efforts from last summer. The review will identify gaps and deficiencies in last summer’s operations and allow us to improve procedures and plans. It will also inform work to update the territorial emergency response plan that will commence in the spring.

MACA is also coordinating the GNWT’s participation in Operation NANOOK 2015, which provides a great opportunity to practice and evaluate components of the NWT’s emergency measures regime. This annual Canadian Forces live exercise is scheduled to take place in August and will involve working with key partners to respond to a simulated wildfire event in the vicinity of Fort Smith.

Last summer, the Department completed a territorial hazard identification risk assessment which provides communities guidance concerning risks that pose the greatest threat to people, property, environment and the economy. This tool can be used to update community emergency plans, develop municipal disaster risk mitigation plans, and guide development of emergency response exercises.

MACA also started work on modernizing the Civil Emergency Measures Act to ensure it provides the GNWT and community governments with effective tools to respond to our current hazard environment. Work is well underway and it is hoped that we can pass in the 17th Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, not all emergency events occur from natural disasters. Many originate in our own homes and have a profound impact on families. According to the National Fire Protection Association, households can expect a home fire every 15 years. While most will be small fires resulting in little or no damage, some will be greater. This means effective community fire protection needs to remain a high priority for the Department and community governments.

In 2014, MACA continued implementation of an NWT Community Fire Protection Plan, focused on key priorities identified by fire protection stakeholders. The Department recently worked with partners to implement a territorial-wide carbon monoxide awareness campaign and a volunteer fire fighter recruitment and retention toolkit for community governments. These efforts combine to help improve the efforts of smaller communities with limited equipment, capacity and volunteers. Future efforts will continue to build on local capacity by providing templates and tools that can be implemented by fire departments in communities across the NWT.

To help ensure adequate first aid skills, MACA is delivering first responder training to community volunteers and staff. Since June 2014, six communities have received training, with several more sessions planned for the remainder of the year. This effort has been combined with a unique opportunity to increase public access to Automated External Defibrillators. Working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation, we are combining efforts to place more than 60 defibrillators in recreation and public facilities throughout the North, and to deliver user training to volunteers.

Central to this goal are our continued efforts to help community government staff and volunteers achieve certification and accreditation as fire fighters. In 2014, eighteen Individuals were certified as fire instructors and eight individuals as fire investigators.

Mr. Speaker, improvements in community fire protection require a sustained effort and effective collaboration on behalf of all stakeholders. It also requires an effective foundation with which to ensure adequate oversight and authority for all levels of government. To this end, MACA is making good progress towards an updated Fire Prevention Act that will reflect our true operating environment. A draft bill is expected early in the 18th Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to commend community governments for their continued efforts in this important area and to thank our partners for their ongoing support.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackson Lafferty: Aboriginal Languages Programs and Progress

mer, 03/04/2015 - 15:39

Mr. Speaker, Aboriginal Languages Month is an opportune time to reflect on past successes and the work that lies ahead in continuing to promote, revitalize and preserve our nine official Aboriginal languages. We are all burdened by the truth that some of our Aboriginal languages are struggling, not because we are not doing enough to support them, but because the challenges they face are complex.

Residential school and colonialism have left some deep scars behind and are largely responsible for Aboriginal people struggling to keep their languages alive. Adding to this reality is the fact that English has taken over as the predominant language of our society. This history can never be forgotten nor can its impact be reversed quickly.

Mr. Speaker, the good news is, however, that the Government of the Northwest Territories is partnering with Aboriginal governments, schools and the federal government to make a difference and reverse this trend. This collaboration is vital as success can only be achieved by working together, each doing our part. That is not about duplicating efforts and creating bureaucracy. It is about sharing in the responsibility and helping build one another’s capacity.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the NWT invests 15 million dollars each year to support and promote Aboriginal languages through:

• Building the capacity of Aboriginal governments to implement their 5-year regional language plans;
• Funding culture and language programs in schools;
• Funding language nest programs in daycares;
• Supporting Aboriginal broadcasting;
• Funding programs that increase the number of Aboriginal language instructors;
• Developing Aboriginal language terminology;
• Supporting specific Aboriginal language initiatives; and
• Providing government services in Aboriginal languages where possible.

Mr. Speaker, these are the highlights of our actions, providing evidence that we are firing on all cylinders. Key to all of our efforts, however, is parents speaking their Aboriginal language at home with their children, and children embracing the learning of that language. Without that key ingredient our efforts can only go so far.

Mr. Speaker, administering support for Aboriginal languages is complex. To simplify our approach and provide the funding in the most straightforward way, as of April 1st, 2014, all Aboriginal governments now have the control and flexibility to decide where best to allocate their funding. They have done their homework and have developed very rich regional language plans. Our job is now to support them in their efforts to implement them and give them time to assess what has worked best and where improvements can be made.

We are helping them in developing monitoring and evaluation plans for their accountability and measuring their efforts.

Mr. Speaker, we have listened to the advice of the Aboriginal governments and our Elders; they are the ones on the ground in the communities. They see the decline happening before their eyes. But they also see pockets of progress – there are the children working with Elders to create a dictionary; there are youth teaching others what they’ve learned, there are children sitting with community Elders and learning from them, and there are communities rallying from the youngest to the oldest to ensure that everyone on the ground is reaching beyond their communities to share their languages with the world.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.

J. Michael Miltenberger: Proposed NWT Electronics Recycling Program

mer, 03/04/2015 - 15:35

Mr. Speaker, regulated electronics recycling programs are in place or under development in all Canadian provinces and the Yukon Territory and we are making good progress on an electronics recycling program in the Northwest Territories.

Recycling electronics helps prevent harmful materials from leaching into the environment when disposed in landfills, burned or left on the land. Recycling old electronics into new products also minimizes environmental impacts related to extracting raw materials through mining and other activities.

In a survey conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in 2008, residents identified electronics recycling as one of the top three priorities for the territorial waste reduction and recovery program.

ENR began an electronics recycling pilot project in September 2013, which has collected over 20 tonnes of electronics at bottle depots in Fort McPherson, Norman Wells, Fort Smith and Fort Providence.

Through a competitive process, e-waste collected under the NWT’s program will be sent to a recycler in Alberta on a three year contract. Recyclers will be required to be registered under the Government of Alberta electronics recycling program. This will ensure important environmental standards and employee health and safety standards are met, and will make sure no electronics are sent to countries where minimum standards are not in place to protect the environment and employee health and safety.

There is a cost to recycling the e-waste but these will be covered through the environmental handling fees charged on each new electronics product purchased in the NWT or purchased online. These fees range from $3 for a portable computer to $100 for large industrial printers.

ENR is currently drafting new Electronics Recycling Regulations under the Waste Reduction and Recovery Act.

The program has been designed to ensure a level playing field for retailers. Proposed fees are comparable to program start-up fees in other jurisdictions and are no higher than the top end of fees in other Canadian jurisdictions. Measures will also be put in place to make sure all electronics suppliers are compliant with the Regulations, including online electronics distributers.

From January 6 to February 16, 2015 stakeholders were invited to provide feedback on the proposed NWT Electronics Recycling Program. These included industry associations representing electronics suppliers, NWT and local Chamber of Commerce offices, Arctic Co-op, Northwest Company, NWT Association of Communities, mines, Government of the Northwest Territories, Public Works and Services and the waste management service industry.

Most of the feedback received was from national and multinational electronics manufacturers, distributers and retailers. There was generally support for the program and no feedback was received expressing broad opposition to an electronics recycling program in NWT.

Comments from stakeholders included ensuring that environmental handling fees are set appropriately, delaying the program launch to avoid busy times for retailers, engaging industry in refining the product list and harmonizing the NWT program with other jurisdictions as much as possible.

The program will be funded by environmental handling fees charged to electronic suppliers on all new designated electronics sold in or into the NWT. Refunds will not be provided for electronics returned for recycling.

The draft Regulations will be complete in spring 2015 and a territory-wide electronics recycling program is targeted to launch in fall 2015. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister of Justice accepts recommendations from Auditor General

mar, 03/03/2015 - 18:16

YELLOWKNIFE (March 3, 2015) – The Minister of Justice has accepted all recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG) Report on NWT Corrections Service.

“We welcome this examination of our procedures and processes as supportive of improvements and change in the Corrections system,” said Minister of Justice David Ramsay. “We have an obligation to provide strong programs for rehabilitation as well as to prepare inmates for their reintegration to the community and we don’t take this obligation lightly. We are committed to public safety.” 

The OAG undertook a review of the Corrections Service in the Northwest Territories. The OAG Audit was to determine whether the Department of Justice is meeting key responsibilities in corrections facilities.

Fourteen recommendations were made by the Auditor General which will assist in the ongoing efforts to improve management policies and procedures as well as the department’s ability to adequately monitor and report.

As a first step, the Minister has instructed the Department of Justice to take immediate action in a number of areas identified by the audit.

The Minister also said that change is necessary in the way the Corrections Service conducts business. “I hope to meet with the Standing Committee on Social Programs to present a work plan that responds to the Auditor General’s recommendations and, more importantly, to discuss how we move forward together. I have no doubt the professional and dedicated staff of the Corrections Service will be able to work for the change we need to make improvements.”

Media inquiries:
Sue Glowach
Senior Communication Advisor
Department of Justice
Tel: 867-920-3130

Jackson Lafferty: Mackenzie River Names

mar, 03/03/2015 - 15:43

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment has approved five traditional Aboriginal names for the Mackenzie River under the NWT Geographical and Community Names Policy.

As the Department responsible for community and geographical names in the Northwest Territories, we place a special emphasis on traditional Aboriginal geographical names as they are important to the culture, history, and languages of the people of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the Mackenzie River is the largest and longest river system in Canada and continues to serve as a transportation corridor. It provides key support to communities along its length, while serving to foster economic development.  In this way, like a strand of sinew, it ties the Northwest Territories together.   The Mackenzie River is one of our most important geographical features and helps to define the Northwest Territories’ place in Canada. 

In 1984, the Geographical Names Board of Canada declared the Mackenzie River a geographical feature of Pan-Canadian Significance in recognition of its historical importance and prominent place in the Canadian landscape.  With that decision, both the French and English names for the Mackenzie River became official. Previously, only the English place name was an official name.

Through the NWT’s Geographical and Community Names Policy, we have the ability to also make the traditional names for geographical features official to assure their cultural continuity. In accordance with this, the five Aboriginal names for the Mackenzie River are now approved and join the English and French versions as official names.

The Aboriginal names are:

Kuukpak, the Inuvialuktun name,

Nagwichoonjik, the Gwich’in name,

Deho, the North Slavey name,

Dehcho, the South Slavey name, and

Grande Rivière, the Michif name.

All of the Aboriginal names translate as a variation of ‘big’ or ‘great’ river, underscoring its importance as a geographical feature.

Mr. Speaker, now that the Aboriginal names for the Mackenzie River have been recognized, an Elder from any community along its length can stand on its bank and tell his or her grandchildren that their name for the river is known by all.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Glen Abernethy: Weaving our Wisdom Gathering – March 3-5, 2015

mar, 03/03/2015 - 15:38

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health & Social Services is pursuing the 17th Legislative Assembly’s goal of healthy, educated people by investing in prevention, education awareness, and early childhood development. By working in partnership with community and Aboriginal governments, non-governmental organizations, health professionals and other stakeholders we can achieve our vision of Best Health, Best Care, for a Better Future.

To help all partners align their efforts, we are holding a Territorial Wellness Gathering from March 3rd to 5th at the Explorer Hotel in Yellowknife.  We are partnering with the NWT Association of Communities to host this event, and I would like to thank the Association for their assistance.

Community leaders, Elders, and youth from all 33 communities will come together, along with representatives of Aboriginal governments and non-governmental organizations, staff from the Health and Social Services Authorities, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Health Canada, to take part in the Gathering.  

Participants will learn about how social determinants and economic factors influence people’s health, and explore how we can work together to improve the overall well-being of our residents. The Gathering will focus on three themes: Closing the Gap; Healthy People and Communities; and Building Stronger Families.

It will be informative and inspirational, with compelling presentations from prominent experts. It will provide opportunities for participants to actively engage on the three themes and share ideas on how they can improve residents’ quality of life. It offers individuals and organizations a venue to learn from each other, share their wisdom, and exchange knowledge on best practices that enhance the well-being of our communities.

The sessions will also be available through live webcast so that all residents have the opportunity to hear these presentations.

A number of key speakers from across Canada will be attending the Gathering, along with our own local experts and residents. They will share their wisdom and stories and will be a valuable resource that participants can learn from.

I look forward to hearing from respected professors, researchers, and physicians such as Dr. Janet Smylie, one of the first Metis doctors in Canada, and Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, there are many factors that negatively influence the health and well-being of our residents. These include struggles with income, education, early childhood development, food insecurity, and housing. Other issues include mental health, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, diabetes and even the impacts of climate change.

The Gathering will offer participants an opportunity for open and honest dialogue about these issues and help foster awareness and understanding, and will give participants ideas for addressing issues in their communities. It will also provide information and real life experiences from Northerners on successful efforts to improve the well-being of our residents.

Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories have an increased burden of chronic disease and the trends will continue to worsen unless we intervene. We know that better promotion of healthy lifestyles is one of the keys to improving this situation.

Because so many NWT residents are Aboriginal, especially in the smaller communities, improving the health status of the Aboriginal population is one way the Department of Health and Social Services is working to accomplish our goals.

We continue to develop effective, culturally-appropriate prevention and promotion programs and work with our health centres to create a welcoming environment where Aboriginal people feel respected and supported. The Northwest Territories has an opportunity to become a leader in culturally-sensitive approaches to care.

Improving the health of all NWT residents will require the cooperation and effort of many groups and organizations, Mr. Speaker. We need to continue to develop strong partnerships with community and Aboriginal governments, non-governmental organizations and health and social service providers to form an integrated approach in order to have a collective impact.

This is why having events like the Territorial Wellness Gathering is important. We hope that from the Gathering we can collectively develop solutions that give residents greater opportunity to enjoy the benefits of healthy lifestyles.

Mr. Speaker, exchanging information and finding new, innovative ways to address the social and economic factors that negatively influence our residents’ well-being will help us achieve our goal of having sustainable, vibrant, safe communities.

This Gathering also moves towards achieving our commitments in the GNWT Anti-Poverty Action Plan, Early Childhood Development Action Plan and Pathways to Wellness: An Updated Action Plan for Addictions and Mental Health.

By strengthening our partnerships and weaving together our collective wisdom, we will realize our vision of Best Health, Best Care, for a Better Future. I look forward to sharing the findings from the Gathering with my colleagues in this Assembly.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bob McLeod: Reappointment of Commissioner Tuccaro

mar, 03/03/2015 - 15:33

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise to advise Members of the Legislative Assembly that the Honourable George Tuccaro, Commissioner of the Northwest Territories has been reappointed to his position for another one-year term. The appointment was announced by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada the Honourable Bernard Valcourt last week. Commissioner Tuccaro’s second term will begin on May 11, 2015 and end on May 10, 2016.

The role and relationship of the Commissioner’s Office and the Government of the Northwest Territories has always been a close one. Only 30 years ago, the Commissioner would have been directly involved in the day-to-day running of government and would have had many of the same responsibilities the Premier now has.

As our people and territory have evolved, so has our political system. Today, elected representatives serving the people of the Northwest Territories have the responsibility for the daily direction and control of the government.

At the same time, the role of the Commissioner has evolved into a more ceremonial and symbolic office similar to that of a provincial lieutenant governor. In this role, the Commissioner symbolizes and expresses the values and aspirations of all residents of the Northwest Territories. In representing the interests we all share, the Commissioner is a powerful symbol of the things that unite us as Northerners.

The Commissioner is also an important symbol of our belief in our democratic institutions of government, both in Canada and the Northwest Territories. Through his relationship with the Governor General, Lieutenant Governors and other Commissioners, the Commissioner symbolizes our participation in the Canadian federation.

The demands of being Commissioner require a person with unique characteristics. To represent and reflect their interests, the Commissioner needs to know and be in touch with people all across the Northwest Territories. A Commissioner needs dignity and tact to help foster respect for the institutions of government, despite political controversy and human error. Also a Commissioner needs selflessness to rise above personal interest and represent the interests of all Northwest Territories residents.

I think everyone will agree that Mr. George Tuccaro has demonstrated all those characteristics in private life and in his term as Commissioner. Mr. Tuccaro is well known across the North, both as a broadcaster and through his travels. His support for Northern arts and culture is well known. He has served on the NWT Arts Council, promoted Aboriginal language programming at CBC North, served on the Legislative Assembly’s Cultural Enhancement Committee and been involved in many cultural events throughout the years. His more recent work before becoming Commissioner involving issues like healthy lifestyles, drug and alcohol abuse prevention and residential schools, proved that he is still in touch with the issues that affect so many Northerners today.

Mr. Speaker, it has been an honour to have worked with Mr. Tuccaro during his term as Commissioner. He is traveling in the Mackenzie Delta this week promoting the anniversary of the Canadian flag, but I would like to invite all Members to join me in congratulating him for his reappointment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tom Beaulieu: Public Service in the Northwest Territories

lun, 03/02/2015 - 15:37

Mr. Speaker, developing our employees and ensuring the public service is prepared to provide sustainable, quality programs and effective services to our residents in the future are a priority of this government.  In 2009, we started a 10-year journey to develop excellence in the public service through 20/20: A Brilliant North, the NWT Public Service Strategic Plan.  We are mid-way through the implementation of 20/20, and now is a good time to review some of our successes.

Our ability to provide sustainable, quality programs and services is strongly linked to recruiting and retaining talented staff who are committed to their professions, their communities, and the people they serve.   Employee surveys tell us the Government of the Northwest Territories is an inclusive workplace that recognizes and embraces diversity.  They tell us we have good programs to support recruitment and the development of Northerners.  They also tell us employees see real advantages to working for the GNWT, with its unlimited range and diversity of work and opportunities for career growth, development and advancement. 

Mr. Speaker, we have seen good results in developing future senior managers through the leadership, management and Aboriginal development training programs. We have started implementing competency-based performance management to ensure successful performance in our jobs.  We have implemented policies and programs to ensure our employees are treated with fairness, dignity and respect. We have partnered with Aboriginal and community government’s to develop and sustain the public sector at all levels across the NWT.

The Government is focusing on strengthening its occupational health and safety culture. The Department of Human Resources is providing strategic advice on Occupational Health and Safety or OHS activities across the GNWT.  Twenty-nine Departments and agencies have developed or are in the process of developing their OHS Programs and have OHS Coordinators in place.

However, we recognize there is more we can do to achieve our goals. It is also important that the public service focus on service delivery outcomes. We can achieve this by providing managers a strong framework for human resource management decision-making.

The Department of Human Resources is preparing an HR Management Accountability Framework to align the GNWT with modern best practices in human resource management.  The Framework will establish the supporting structure to set clear roles and responsibilities and reasonable performance expectations based on legislation, policy and regulations for sound human resource management decisions.

Mr. Speaker, we can improve our ability to acquire and retain talent by modernizing the workforce and workplace.  Modernization means offering efficient and effective recruitment programs substantiated by cost-benefit analysis and sound return on investment.  The Regional Recruitment Program is assisting with increasing regional employment opportunities by linking residents with local jobs.  Nine trainees are in positions learning new skills through on-the-job training and providing service to people in their communities of Inuvik, Fort Simpson, Fort Providence and Fort Smith.  Two more positions are in the processing of being filled.  Work is underway to improve the program so that it is a proactive tool for hiring managers looking to fill positions.

Mr. Speaker, our vacancy numbers have improved, dropping by 188 positions between last April and October.  The GNWT is continuing its focus on training the Northern labour force and marketing itself and the jobs available throughout Canada using streamlined recruitment to bring qualified and skilled people into the North to fill hard-to-recruit positions. We will continue to use direct appointments and or recruitment to attract affirmative action candidates to the GNWT and fill our critical vacant jobs.

We continue to invest in our youth by making jobs available through the Summer Student and Internship Programs.  While we are making opportunities available to post-secondary students and graduates, they also have a role to play.  My advice to them as new job seekers is to be proactive in their search for employment.  Research GNWT departments and agencies to find work units related to your field of study.  Approach managers in these units to let them know you are interested in working for their Department.  Apply now.  Hiring is based on the needs of departments and agencies.  Managers will contact students directly if an opportunity arises.

Mr. Speaker, implementing a HR Accountability Framework and improving our HR programs continues to move the GNWT towards the goals and objectives of the NWT Public Service Strategic Plan.  With these modernization efforts, we ensure a diverse, competent and sustainable workforce, capable of, and committed to, delivering high quality services to the people of the Northwest Territories.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackson Lafferty: Addressing School Attendance Challenges

lun, 03/02/2015 - 15:35

Mr. Speaker, I have often talked about the Education Renewal Initiative in this House and have updated Members a number of times as to its progress.  In our discussions last year, Members said that unless children actually go to school it does not matter what programs and supports are provided. Members encouraged us to create a school attendance advertising campaign, and, Mr. Speaker, we have acted upon that advice.

Mr. Speaker, our school attendance rates are not where we want them to be.  Students must strive for a hundred percent attendance in order to give themselves the best chance to learn.  A student who has 80% attendance is missing two full years of school by the time they reach Grade 10.  In 2014 the average attendance in our small communities was 77% compared to 82% in the regions and 90% in Yellowknife.  71% of Northwest Territories Grade 10 students had less than 80% attendance.  We must work to improve these statistics.

Ensuring students go to school is everyone’s responsibility.  Many people can affect a student’s attendance.  It is the role of the school to provide thought-provoking classes, and a safe and warm environment.  Parents and caregivers can help their children get out of bed on time to provide a healthy breakfast and a quiet place to do homework.  Leaders can speak to the importance of education and can motivate and incent students by showing them how a good education can improve their lives  and government can provide information and resources to help students become the best they can be, provide leadership to District Education Councils and Authorities and support parents. 

Following on the advice of Members, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment is undertaking a student attendance campaign that takes our message directly to youth in ways they understand.  We are using innovative and modern graphics and “teen-speak”.  We have created an infographic which not only poses questions about attendance but offers youth places to go if they need help.

We will be providing these resources to Members for their constituency offices and will be displaying information about attendance, helpline contacts and quick facts in every community in the Northwest Territories. Our goal is to ensure youth make good decisions for themselves and their futures and to make sure they know where to seek help if they need it.

Mr. Speaker, this campaign was, in part, created by youth.  They advised us on the look and feel of the campaign, the right wording to use to reach their peers and where to place our messages.  I firmly believe that because of their participation in this campaign, we will reach out in the most effective manner to a wider youth audience and will be more successful because of it.

But, Mr. Speaker, this is not all we are doing to increase attendance in schools.  Through the Education Renewal Initiative there are several projects underway to improve schools as learning environments.  One of the reasons some students do not attend regularly is because they are being bullied. We are addressing this through our Safe and Caring Schools legislation, regulations, School Codes of Conduct and Safe Schools Plans.

Another reason some students attend irregularly is because they are hungry.  This issue is being addressed, in part, through the Healthy Food in Schools initiative which is underway this year.  Some students do not attend school because the courses they are interested in are not offered.  We are addressing this issue through the expanded commitment to distance learning that ERI is supporting this year.

Mr. Speaker, we share a vision of a strong and prosperous NWT.  Our youth need to be healthy and educated if they are going to participate in, and fully enjoy the benefits of a growing economy.  Education renewal is helping prepare them for a successful future. We recognize that attendance is of paramount importance as we move forward with the Education Renewal Initiative and we are working hard in this area on many fronts.  These are some of the ways that our renewal of education is tackling the issue of student attendance in the NWT.

I want to thank Members for their advice and guidance on this issue and for their continued support as we work with youth to help them achieve their dreams.

Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Ministerial Restorative Justice Award presented to Bobbi Hamilton

lun, 03/02/2015 - 14:57

Bobbi Hamilton (centre) receives award from Steve Versteeg (left), Manager of Community Justice and Policing and Colin White (right), Manager Community Policing Programs

HAY RIVER (March 2, 2015) – The 2015 Ministerial Restorative Justice Award has been presented to Bobbi Hamilton of Hay River for her significant contributions to the people of her community.  Ms. Hamilton has demonstrated peaceful ways of resolving conflict and promoted healing between offenders, victims, families and communities.

“The work that Community Justice Coordinators like Bobbi Hamilton do for their communities and the changes that result from it can never be underestimated,” said Minister of Justice David Ramsay. “She has worked with hundreds of youth over the past seven years to help them make better choices in their lives and  for the future. The majority of youth assisted through this alternative to the courts go on to change their lives and live crime-free.” 

The Ministerial Restorative Justice Award was established in 2014.  It recognizes the significant contributions of individuals who demonstrate leadership and model the restorative justice principles in the service of peace through their work, lifestyle and ways of transforming human relationships by encouraging communication and healing between people in conflict.

“I do what I do because I like to help people make positive changes,” said Bobbi Hamilton. “When I see those results, it’s rewarding; to be recognized for this is a further bonus.”

The Restorative Justice process contributes to achieving the 17th Legislative Assembly’s goal of sustainable, vibrant, safe communities by providing an alternative to the traditional court system for individuals who are ready to make changes in their lives, accept responsibility for their actions and to start to repair the harm they have done to their victim and the community.

Media inquiries:
Sue Glowach

Senior Communications Advisor
Department of Justice
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: 867-920-3130

Bobbi Hamilton
Coordinator, HR Community Justice Committee
102 – 31 Capital Drive (Greenway Building)
Hay River
Phone:  867- 874-3993

Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre launches interactive website

lun, 03/02/2015 - 12:50

YELLOWKNIFE (March 2, 2015) – Experience the stories, culture and heritage of the Northwest Territories through the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre’s dynamic new website.

On February 1st, the Northern Heritage Centre launched a redeveloped site that includes innovative technologies, expanding the museum’s virtual presence.

The new site allows visitors to engage with the Heritage Centre’s programs, objects and archives, essentially becoming an on-line library of the territory’s rich cultural offerings.  

Some of the new features include:

  • Revolving Objects Showcase highlighting the  NWT Collections
  • Expanded NWT Archives database with savable search functions
  • New virtual interactive exhibit:  Yamǫ́rıa The One Who Travels
  • More  than 20 virtual exhibits only available on-line
  • NWT cultural places interactive maps
  • Video gallery featuring documentary footage
  • NWT language map

The new website offers opportunities for interacting with the exhibits, collections and archives, and provides up to date information on current and upcoming programming.

“We are proud to share and create easier access to the rich culture and heritage of our territory through this new interactive site,” said Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty. “It feels like we’ve just expanded the walls of the museum and grown.”

Media inquiries:
Jacqueline McKinnon
Department of Education, Culture and Employment
Tel: 867- 920-6222

Early childhood scholarships awarded

lun, 03/02/2015 - 10:31

YELLOWKNIFE  (March 2, 2015) – Minister of Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) Jackson Lafferty congratulates the first NWT students awarded a $5,000 Right from the Start Early Childhood Development (ECD) Scholarship to support their full-time studies in Early Childhood Development.

“High quality early childhood programs require knowledgeable and professional early childhood educators,” said Minister Lafferty. “Well-trained practitioners have a direct and lifelong impact on the lives of the children with whom they work. Supporting those seeking an education in the field is one way our government can invest in Northerners to meet our goal of healthy, educated people.” 

The recipients of the 2014-2015 Right from the Start Early Childhood Development Scholarship are:

  • Brittinee Lafferty from Hay River
  • Jordan Shortt from Yellowknife
  • Kirsten Sangris from Ndilo
  • Marilou Dela Cruz from Yellowknife
  • Robyn Anderson from Yellowknife
  • Shaina Sabourin from Fort Providence
  • Stephanie Hansen from Inuvik
  • Teale MacIntosh from Yellowknife
  • Teegan Rendell from Yellowknife
  • Ts’iwa Apples from Gameti

The scholarships will be available on an annual basis for the first 10 eligible applicants and will help NWT students completing diploma or degree programs in early childhood development. The scholarships were developed with the goal of increasing the number of qualified ECD professionals in licensed NWT early childhood programs.

This scholarship is part of the ongoing work by the departments of Health and Social Services and Education, Culture and Employment to implement the Right from the Start Early Childhood Development Framework and Action Plan. Applications are now being accepted for the 2015-2016 school year. For more information visit or visit the Facebook page.

Media inquiries:
Jacqueline McKinnon

Education, Culture and Employment
Tel:  867-920-6222

Former Justice Thomas Berger to open exhibit at Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre

ven, 02/27/2015 - 17:32

YELLOWKNIFE (February 27, 2015) – Former  Justice Thomas Berger will be visiting the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre to officially open the Thunder in our Voices exhibit currently on display until April 30, 2015.

Between 1975 and 1977, Justice Thomas Berger visited thirty communities in the NWT and the Yukon to hold hearings into the proposed Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. The Berger Inquiry broke with tradition by considering perspectives offered by community members in their own languages. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of this process in which residents of the Mackenzie Valley were able to tell their stories in their own words as part of regulatory decision making on the proposed project.

“The exhibit at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre is full of familiar faces that participated in this process,” said Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty. “The museum is an important caretaker of our culture and heritage, and the collaboratively-created travelling multimedia exhibit contributes to our understanding of the NWT’s history through community photographs video, and personal stories.”

In 1975, freelance journalist Drew Ann Wake traveled to the Northwest Territories to cover the Berger Inquiry. Five years ago, Wake dug out her original sound recordings and photographs from that time. Along with photographer Linda MacCannell, Wake visited local schools in twenty-five villages across the Mackenzie River over several summers. Families looked at the archives together, and youth interviewed their parents and grandparents about their experiences with the Inquiry.  The exhibit combines the memories of original participants as well as a new generation of youth reflecting on the legacy of the Berger Inquiry, all of whom helped create the exhibit.

Mr. Berger will be working with students throughout the day on Tuesday, March 3 and will be in attendance to do a public presentation and officially open the exhibit in the evening.

The Northern Heritage Centre maintains an online resource of Berger materials including recordings, photographs and video from the Inquiry.

Media inquiries:
Jacqueline McKinnon
Department of Education, Culture and Employment
Tel: 867-920-6222

Jackson Lafferty: Canada’s Outstanding Principals – Lea Lamoureux

jeu, 02/26/2015 - 15:36

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate Ms. Lea Lamoureux, Principal of Kaw Tay Whee School in Dettah, on being recognized as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principals for 2015.

She is the most recent in a long list of Northwest Territories recipients, who have been recognized for their dedication and passion for teaching our students in the Northwest Territories.

The Learning Partnership recently announced Ms. Lamoureux as one of 40 exceptional educators from across Canada. Through her leadership, Kaw Tay Whee School is now a vibrant learning environment, connecting families and the community of Dettah.

Ms. Lamoureux and her staff have built an active, inclusive environment in their school, where everyone strives to do their best. Ms. Lamoureux’s leadership, with the dedicated support of her staff and community, has resulted in library and classroom resources to support a balanced literacy program, and a new computer lab to help students develop reading, inquiry and writing skills, with 80 percent of students now reading at or above grade level.

They have brought a community Elder into the school to work with students in the Weledeh language and to teach skills in traditional activities like beading, sewing, working with hide and drying fish. They established an Aboriginal Role Model Program that brings in authors, singers, naturopathic doctors and other professionals to promote career pathways and the importance of education. With her guidance, her students created a story in clay and turned it into a book called “Walking in Dettah”, in English and Weledeh. You can find this book at the Yellowknife Book Cellar.

She has gone beyond the walls of her school and reached out to her students’ families, and every family now has alarm clocks to support the ‘On Time by 9’ initiative. There is a Family Literacy initiative in place, and every family with children under 12 has a family library based on the children’s ages, interests and reading levels.

She also reached out to the community and forged key partnerships, which raised over $400,000 for resources and programming that focus on literacy, science and technology, active living and nutrition programming. She and her staff were successful in securing funding for a community playground.

Mr. Speaker, I visited Ms. Lamoureux’s school this past October. I saw a passionate educator, engaged students, and an environment full of activity and energy. Lea Lamoureux personifies everything we are working on in the Education Renewal initiative. Through this initiative, principals have critical roles in creating inspirational and healthy learning environments and they are key connections in the school-community relationship. Ms. Lamoureux intuitively understands that this is the way to create the best school and learning experiences for her students.

Ms. Lamoureux now has the opportunity to attend a five-day Executive Leadership Training Program delivered by the internationally renowned Rotman School of Management later this month. Once complete, she will join some 500 exceptional educators that comprise the National Academy of Canada’s Outstanding Principals.

Please join me in congratulating Ms. Lea Lamoureux and her dedication to her students, community, and excellence in education.

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Med-Response launches groundbreaking new medical support service in NWT

jeu, 02/26/2015 - 15:33

YELLOWKNIFE (February 26, 2015) – Minister of Health and Social Services Glen Abernethy announced the launch of a new service to help health care practitioners better meet the medical needs of residents in all NWT communities today. Called Med-Response, the service provides a single phone number practitioners can call to coordinate and triage air ambulance flights and immediately access the clinical expertise they need; whether that is a Nurse Practitioner, ER physician, NWT specialist, or specialist from Alberta.

”Med-Response gives health care workers across the NWT improved and timely access to air ambulance services and clinical support, which allows them to focus on providing the best care for Northerners,” stated Minister Abernethy.

The Med-Response system is breaking new ground in Canada. While other jurisdictions have separate call centres for air ambulance dispatch or for clinical consultation, the NWT is the first to combine these functions into one centre. The single phone number works in all regions and Med-Response staff are available 24/7.

Dr. Anna Reid, STHA Medical Director, explained, “In an emergency situation, Med-Response is designed to meet two needs: it reduces the amount of time health care practitioners in every community spend arranging air ambulance transport; and it ensures that they have fast, consistent, and reliable access to clinical support when they require it. This collaborative service allows them to focus their time and efforts on their patients.”

Dr. Reid noted that Med-Response is not a public help line or 911 service, but is an internal service designed to support health care practitioners as part of a system-wide approach to meet the medical needs of all NWT residents.

For a backgrounder on Med-Response click here.
Media inquiries:
Umesh Sutendra
Policy, Legislation, Communications
NWT Department of Health & Social Services
Tel: 867-920-3368

Glen Abernethy: Med-Response

jeu, 02/26/2015 - 15:32

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to announce the official launch of the Med-Response call centre. Members of the Standing Committee on Social Programs joined me earlier today at Stanton Territorial Hospital to celebrate this milestone.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is breaking new ground in Canada with this single window approach to clinical consultation, and air ambulance triage and dispatch. Med-Response will improve access to services and quality of care for people across the Northwest Territories, by providing immediate clinical support to health care practitioners in all communities via a simple toll-free number.

Med-Response is not a service directly available to the public, Mr. Speaker, but our patients and their families will experience immediate benefit. Previously, when faced with a potentially critical situation, a Community Health Nurse had to make multiple calls to access physician advice, order an air ambulance, provide updates and coordinate information flow. He or she would do this while trying to support and stabilize an ill or injured patient, and assess whether an air ambulance was required.

From now on, one phone call to Med-Response will give our community health care providers access to all the clinical support they need. The call centre, located in Yellowknife is manned by Emergency Medical Dispatchers and Emergency Medical Coordinators who are registered nurses. They are on the line immediately with the community health practitioner, allowing several things to happen at once: the Dispatcher can immediately contact our Air Ambulance provider, while the Coordinator can assess the situation and get the appropriate physician or specialist on the line. Coordinating the whole process on one multi-party phone line, replaces numerous calls, repeating the same information to various parties.

Reducing the time a community health practitioner has to spend on the phone allows them to focus on the patient. In urgent situations, an air ambulance can be dispatched earlier and eliminate situations when medevac flights are delayed because of telephone reception issues in remote locations.

In addition to improved communication, faster response times and a reduced risk of error, all calls to Med-Response are recorded, providing a higher level of quality assurance.

Mr. Speaker, although the call centre officially opened today, staff have been testing scenarios and introducing the service since November 2014. While cost savings is not the primary goal of Med-Response, we are already seeing potential for efficiencies. In some situations, immediate access to physician support has confirmed an air ambulance was not required. In other situations, the call centre has been able to deploy air ambulance flights that are already en route to pick up another patient, thereby reducing the number of flights and turnaround time.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social Services and Stanton Territorial Hospital have put in place an evaluation framework so that we can monitor how Med-Response is improving the system and our services. In the future, we see potential for broader application of this service. For example, the call centre may play a key role in supporting first responders or health practitioners in communities without resident nurses.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude with a quote from a Community Health Nurse who has already had the opportunity to use the Med-Response service. She says:

“When it’s after hours and you’re all by yourself, Med-Response gives you more time to focus on the patient instead of stopping all the time to pick up the phone. It’s pretty efficient. You feel like the team is right there for you.”

I am proud of the work that has been done to make Med-Response a reality, and of the exceptional service the team at Stanton is already providing. Med-Response is one example of how working as a single system across the territory can help realize our vision of Best Health, Best Care, for a Better Future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tom Beaulieu: Capital Asset Retrofit Fund Program Update

mer, 02/25/2015 - 15:37

Mr. Speaker, as our government continues to work towards achieving its goal of an environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories, I would like to highlight one of the ways that the Department of Public Works and Services is helping to ensure that we maximize investments to improve the operational performance of our existing infrastructure.

First established in 2007, the Capital Asset Retrofit Fund (CARF) Program was created to target energy efficiency investments in our public buildings. At its core, the program strives to:
• Reduce energy consumption and operational costs of government facilities;
• Improve overall comfort for building users;
• Reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with the operation of our public buildings;
• Increase the usable life of government assets; and
• Identify new energy technologies appropriate for our northern environment.

Through the CARF Program, buildings undergo a rigorous energy audit that includes benchmarking a facility to see how its energy usage compares to other similar buildings.

Once baseline energy data is collected, Department of Public Works and Services determines which buildings will most benefit from an energy retrofit under the CARF Program. In the last four years the Department has completed over 30 retrofits ranging in size from $10,000 to over $1 million in 19 different communities, large and small. These energy retrofit projects not only reduce our energy consumption but create much needed business and employment opportunities in our small communities

Looking forward, the Department has 19 energy projects planned for 2015-2016 in various communities. This includes retrofit projects for the Health Centre in Fort Good Hope, Aurora College in Inuvik and schools in Deline, Fort McPherson and Fort Smith.

Mr. Speaker, this government’s investment in energy retrofits not only improves the performance and comfort of our public buildings but also generates net operational savings that we expect will make the CARF Program self-sufficient in future.

The first step in making the CARF Program self-sustaining was achieved in 2010-2011 by re-profiling $645,000 in ongoing operational funding from the Department managed utilities savings to capital infrastructure expenditure funding.

In addition to the savings achieved in 2010-2011, an additional $832,000 in ongoing operational savings was realized between 2012 and 2013 for a total of $1.47 million annually which has been re-directed to permanently fund the CARF Program. By the end of 2014-2015, the Department is projecting the total annual realized savings to reach $1.72 million.

The CARF is meeting program objectives by reducing our energy consumption and lowering the operational costs for government buildings and facilities. Projects include biomass boiler installations, building envelope upgrades, installation of LED lighting, and replacing building components with more energy efficient and responsive systems.

Mr. Speaker, programs like the CARF provides our government with creative ways to maximize infrastructure investments while achieving high standards for energy efficiency which reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The results of our government’s continued investment in the CARF Program will be published in the Department of Public Works and Services 2014/15 Energy Conservation Projects Annual Report later this spring.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bob McLeod: National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

mer, 02/25/2015 - 15:33

Mr. Speaker, on Friday, February 27th, Provincial and Territorial Premiers and Ministers, Federal Ministers and National Aboriginal Organization Leaders will gather in Ottawa to discuss how best to collaborate and coordinate action to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls.

The National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is an unprecedented gathering of partners from across Canada who collectively agree that concrete and identifiable actions are needed.

We know from national research and reports that Indigenous women and girls are three times more likely to experience violence than any other population in Canada. We also know that good work is being done across many jurisdictions and organizations at the local, regional and national level to change this. But, as of right now, no comprehensive or coordinated action plan exists.

The goal of the Roundtable is to create a dialogue among all partners to develop and act upon coordinated solutions to end violence against Indigenous women and girls. The discussion will focus on prevention and awareness, community safety, and policing measures and justice responses.

Careful consideration has been given to how the Roundtable will recognize and include the views of the families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The National Aboriginal Organizations will be hosting a family gathering on February 26th. From that gathering, families in attendance will nominate four witnesses, representing the four directions, to attend the Roundtable to share the vision of the families and provide their reflection on the discussion from the day.

Mr. Speaker, I have been asked by the National Aboriginal Organizations to serve as the official chair for the Roundtable. I am encouraged by the willingness of all levels of government to collectively engage in respectful and meaningful dialogue, set aside political differences and focus on our common goals. We have all acknowledged that work needs to be done to address the far too common tragedies of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.

A family member of a missing Northwest Territories’ Indigenous woman will be part of the delegation. My Cabinet colleague, the Honourable David Ramsay, Minister of Justice, will also be joining me to share the perspectives of the Northwest Territories with the rest of Canada.

The Roundtable is the first meeting of its kind and the start of an important national conversation. I look forward to a shared national commitment to increased, ongoing collaboration and the development of regionally and community-based solutions to prevent and address violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

GNWT research will reduce effects of climate change on NWT transportation system

mar, 02/24/2015 - 15:37

YELLOWKNIFE (February 24, 2015) – The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) is leading research into innovative construction techniques that will reduce the effects of climate change on the northern transportation system. The GNWT is providing significant planning, logistics, construction and monitoring support, and the Government of Canada is providing $669,000 for this research under Transport Canada’s Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative.

“Permafrost degradation is affecting our highways and community airports,” said Minister of Transportation Tom Beaulieu. “Changes in ice conditions affect our winter roads, and low water conditions create challenges for ferry and community marine resupply operations. Our research and development program continues to bring together our experienced operational staff with engineers and scientists to test and develop cost-effective adaptation strategies.”

Two new projects along the Inuvik-to-Tuktoyaktuk Highway will test alternate highway drainage structures and innovative techniques for reinforcing deep-fill road embankments. Continuous permafrost conditions in the Mackenzie Delta region make the highway an ideal location for this research, which continues to position Canada as a world leader in northern transportation research and development. These projects will be constructed during the winter of 2015 and monitored for several years.

The Department of Transportation is an active member of Transport Canada’s Network of Expertise on Permafrost and the Network of Expertise on Arctic Waters, which identify priority Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative research projects across the North. This research is focused on developing effective climate change mitigation strategies for northern transportation systems, and is carried out collaboratively between governments, the engineering community and academia. Previous research in the NWT included climate change vulnerability assessments of highways and airport runways, as well as projections of future water levels in the Mackenzie River corridor.

The department’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan sets a framework for ongoing adaptation initiatives to ensure the sustainability of the transportation system, including ongoing research. Green Light, DOT’s environmental strategy, continues to drive the department’s mitigation activities. Ongoing climate change research also benefits transportation and community infrastructure across the circumpolar north.

Media inquiries:
Megan Holsapple
Manager of Communications
Department of Transportation, GNWT
Tel: (867) 873-7712

Tom Beaulieu: Transportation Research and Development

mar, 02/24/2015 - 15:36

Mr. Speaker, ensuring our residents are able to share the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories is our shared vision. Infrastructure is a key part of achieving that vision and our government continues to participate in research that will improve northern infrastructure design and protect our Northern environment.

I’m pleased to announce that Transport Canada will be providing $669,000 from the federal Northern Transportation Adaptation Initiative to proceed with two new innovative research and development projects on the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway.

Through this partnership, the Department will construct test sections on the new embankment to study innovative techniques for installing drainage structures and reinforcing deep fill embankments with geotextiles.

Both installations will be fully monitored and the results will help us improve methods for constructing transportation infrastructure on permafrost terrain, an area of northern research and development in which Canada remains a world leader.

These projects complement other research the Department has undertaken to develop strategies to mitigate the effect of climate change on the NWT transportation system. The Department’s Climate Change Adaptation plan sets a framework for ongoing adaptation initiatives including ongoing research. Green Light, the Department’s environmental strategy, continues to drive the Department’s mitigation activities.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation will continue collaborating with other levels of government and the academic and engineering communities to advance transportation research. Through these partnerships, vulnerability assessments of airport runways, highways, and winter roads are being completed. We have constructed and are monitoring the performance of test sections on Highway No. 3 and have ongoing projects assessing the impact of climate change on water levels on the critical Mackenzie River marine system.

Through the Department’s participation on Transport Canada’s Networks of Expertise in Permafrost and the Network of Expertise on Arctic Waters, we continue to develop and test adaptation strategies with the Government of Canada, the engineering and research community, and our northern transportation counterparts in the Yukon, Nunavut, Manitoba and Quebec.

Mr. Speaker, identifying and adapting to the potential effects of climate change are critical to the long-term sustainability of the NWT’s transportation infrastructure. We will continue our research efforts to identify opportunities to improve transportation infrastructure and services across Northern Canada over the coming decades and prepare the system for challenges related to climate change.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.