Debates of February 21, 2024 (day 7)



I'd like to thank Annie Inuktalik for the opening blessing.

Members, I want to go back to my original words to you when I first took this Chair. I promised to do everything in my power to be a Speaker that enables indepth debate of ideas; a Speaker that enforces the rules; a Speaker that allows for freedom of speech that respects order and decorum.

Members, healthy debate will often come close to the line and in some cases the line is crossed. If you are unsure, watch the reaction of Members. You will see on the faces of others that your remarks have crossed the line and caused disorder. You will also hear about it from me.

Here in this Chamber, we all have a role to play in healthy debate. I can tell you the previous sitting days, we set a positive tone and the public appreciated it. However, we must maintain it. If we don't, we will lose the public's trust in us and have a big hole we will need to get out of. Thank you.

Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 13-20(1): Celebrating NWT Official languages

[Translation] Mr. Speaker, hello, my name is Caitlin Cleveland. My mother is Carol and my father is Randy. I am from and live in Yellowknife. [Translation ends]

As the Minister responsible for Official Languages, I am proud that all our official languages are celebrated every year, and I would like to begin by wishing my colleagues [Translation unavailable].

February is a time to celebrate our territory's diverse Indigenous languages and acknowledge the significance of language revitalization as these languages form the foundation of our territory's identity, pride, and community. This year's Indigenous Languages Month campaign is called Say it in Our Languages. Residents can keep an eye out for campaign materials on Government of the Northwest Territories' websites and social media channels, at community events, online learning resources, contests, and even on coffee sleeves at coffee shops.

Mr. Speaker, this campaign matters because the loss of Indigenous languages is an ongoing challenge in our territory and around the world. Throughout Canada's relatively short history, colonial policies aimed at assimilating Indigenous peoples have had a devastating impact on Indigenous languages. To reverse the loss of language and keep Indigenous languages alive and thriving, they must be spoken in our communities. Using Indigenous languages every day, whether at home, school or out in public, is critically important to their survival. We do not have to be fluent in the language to make a difference. Practicing Indigenous languages and incorporating them into daily life is a step we can all take to reverse further language loss, which is fundamental to healing our territory.

Mr. Speaker, last year we awarded a recordhigh 18 scholarships to students enrolled in postsecondary programs supporting Indigenous language revitalization. Additionally, our mentorapprentice program, a ninemonth immersive learning program where a fluent Indigenous speaker teaches a language learner. The program had 45 pairs in six different language groups last year. This is an increase of 12 pairs compared to the previous year. Last week I had the pleasure to virtually meet with many of our mentorapprentice program pairs at their final gathering. I was inspired by their personal commitment to revitalize their languages and appreciated their advocacy for more action to support language learning.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to preserving, developing, and enhancing all official languages as supported by Article 13 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As the only political region in Canada that recognizes 11 official languages, the NWT has so much to celebrate during Indigenous Languages Month.

In celebration, we have organized for tea and bannock in the Great Hall during this afternoon's break for all Members, interpreters, translators, and staff of the Legislative Assembly. I hope you can all make it, and I encourage my colleagues to join me in practicing to speak our Indigenous languages together.

I'd like to take this moment to thank our interpreters here in the House of the Legislative Assembly and also Members who continue to speak their language during Members' statements and also the Member for Monfwi who continues to help me learn more words in her language as well. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. Ministers' statements. Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

Minister’s Statement 14-20(1): Our Commitment to Caribou Stewardship

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, barrenground caribou are extremely important to the people, cultures, and communities of the Northwest Territories. They have supported northern Indigenous peoples from time immemorial, and it is important that we all work together to ensure caribou populations remain strong for future generations. In recent years, many herds across the NWT have undergone significant declines, particularly the dramatic 99 percent decline in the size of the Bathurst herd. These changes are driven by multiple interacting factors, including harvest, predators, and the impacts of climate and environment. This is a serious concern as the Bathurst herd remains at extremely low levels with the latest estimate at approximately 6,850 caribou in 2022.

Mr. Speaker, last summer we got some positive news when we saw an increase in the size of the BluenoseEast caribou herd, which had undergone serious declines since 2010. After years of hard work with our comanagement partners, the herd increased from 23,200 animals in 2021 to 39,500 animals in 2023.

Caribou management is a shared responsibility. The Government of the Northwest Territories has been working closely with Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, renewable resource boards, and the Government of Canada, neighboring jurisdictions, industry, nongovernment organizations, and other partners to take strong conservation measures to protect caribou. This collaborative work is being done as part of the NWT's wellestablished wildlife comanagement system where everyone is at the table to help guide caribou management, conservation, and recovery.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Environment and Climate Change works with partners on key research, monitoring, and management initiatives that rely on the best available local, Indigenous, and scientific knowledge. Population surveys are scheduled for July of 2024 to assess the current status of the BluenoseWest, Cape Bathurst, and Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula herds. We are also supporting a wide range of caribou monitoring and guardian initiatives led by our comanagement partners, implementing herdspecific management plans, and meeting with partners every year to review the status of individual herds based on all available information. This approach allows us to make hard decisions and take strong actions together in the best interests of the caribou.

Mr. Speaker, with the winter harvest season now underway, it is important that we continue our work with the Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, renewable resource boards, and other partners to ensure safe and respectful harvest. While most people harvest safely, legally, and respectfully, a small number of people do not.

Environment and Climate Change hosted a meeting of respected harvesters in December 2021 with representatives from communities that traditionally harvest from the Bathurst herd. Participants provided eight recommendations to leaders from Indigenous governments and the GNWT, including the need for all parties to work together, support monitoring and guardian programs, enhance enforcement efforts, and launch a public information campaign on respectful harvesting.

Mr. Speaker, it is our hope that this collaborative work will encourage the use of traditional harvesting practices and promote respect for the protections put in place to support collaborativelydeveloped caribou conservation and recovery. Important conservation measures such as the mobile core Bathurst caribou management zone are put in place in collaboration with our comanagement partners.

Mr. Speaker, caribou are a vital part of the cultures, traditions, and social fabric of our communities. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to working closely with all of our wildlife comanagement partners to support the safe and respectful harvest of caribou while ensuring compliance with collaborativelydeveloped conservation measures, the Wildlife Act, and traditional practices and teaching. Take only what you need. Do not leave anything behind. Share what you have when you get back to your community. And listen and learn from your elders. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Members' statements. Minister for Housing NWT.

Minister’s Statement 15-20(1): Tenant Handbook and Program Updates

Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT offers a range of programs and services to meet different housing needs across the NWT. As Housing NWT engaged with stakeholders as part of their strategic renewal, Housing NWT recognized that it needs new tools to offer a clear understanding of the role of Housing NWT and the local housing organizations as landlords and the rights and responsibilities of tenants in our units.

Coming out of these conversations and the related recommendations, I am very pleased to announce that some of the initiatives that Housing NWT is implementing to support clients across all areas of housing programs.

Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT has developed a tenant handbook to support tenants in public housing and to increase education and awareness on the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. Existing tenants will receive a copy and new tenants will receive one as part of their checkin. The handbook explains the rights and responsibilities of public housing tenants, landlords, and agents involved in public housing in the NWT under the Residential Tenancies Act and related regulations. The handbook is written in plain language and covers a wide range of topics such as moving into a public housing unit, rent and security deposits, care of the unit, safety resources and understanding the processes if a tenant is not compliant with their tenancy agreement.

In addition to the handbook, Housing NWT has created a complementary online tenant education tool for clients to use that will go live in April. This is an interactive learning module that can be used by existing clients but would also be useful for individuals for example that are on the housing waitlist and hope to be a tenant of public housing in the near future.

Mr. Speaker, another outcome of the Housing NWT renewal was to remove barriers to accessing programs. One good example of this is related to the Solutions to Educate People, or STEP courses. These courses were a requirement of applicants to Housing NWT's homeownership programs. Unfortunately, the requirement became a barrier to clients successfully accessing these programs. With Housing NWT removing the requirement for STEP courses, we hope to see an uptake of these programs to empower clients to own and operate their own homes.

Another program that has undergone changes to support clients is the CanadaNWT Housing Benefit. The CanadaNWT Housing Benefit, also known as the CNHB program, is a rent subsidy program that is cost shared 50/50 between Canada and Housing NWT. It is designed to help households that pay more than 30 percent of their income on their rent. Since April 2021, this benefit has provided qualified households with up to $800 per month for rent.

Mr. Speaker, the program is a great example of how strong partnerships with the federal government can improve the lives of NWT residents. In 2022, this benefit supported 265 NWT households and is currently accepting new applicants with no waitlist. This benefit is a tangible, positive difference in the lives of residents in the private housing market. A total of $1,017,800 was provided in support for the 20222023 fiscal year, supporting clients who had affordability issues and therefore are defined as a client in core housing need.

New changes coming to this program include an increase in funding for survivors of genderbased violence, seniors, and persons with disabilities. There has also been an elimination of the twoyear cap on the program so residents can access this program for as long as they need it.

I am pleased with the improvements that Housing NWT has made to tailor its programs to the needs of people across the NWT, including commitment arising from the strategic renewal. As Minister responsible for Housing NWT, I am looking forward to continuing this work to increase the wellbeing of individuals and communities by providing fair access to quality housing support for people most in need. Quyananni, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister of Housing NWT. Ministers' statements. Mr. Premier.

Minister’s Statement 16-20(1): Minister Absent from the House

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Caroline Wawzonek will be absent from the House for the remainder of the week to attend the meetings for federal, provincial, territorial Ministers responsible for transportation and safety in Montreal. Thank you.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 75-20(1): Medical Travel

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I like being in your line of eyesight now.

Mr. Speaker, over the next three and a half years, you will hear me say to Ministers of the GNWT that people need to come first in the delivery of government programs and services. When a policy or process doesn't work continually, government can't keep defending it as being right without cause. There should be a genuine effort to learn from and listen to those who are affected. We must remove barriers that don't support the goal of service and move towards a client service model that enables continued improvement.

Mr. Speaker, when I still worked in the public service, I mentioned to some coworkers that I would likely need medical travel in the future. Most of the people I spoke to sighed and told me to buckle up for a hard ride. As it turns out, Mr. Speaker, my appointments were scheduled for after I was elected. Once I became MLA, there was a point of contact for GNWT medical travel made available to me, which was appreciated for confidentiality reasons. But even then, it was still a confusing process to navigate. I'm a white woman in Yellowknife with a graduate degree and for me to find it confusing is troubling considering that many people in our territory do not have the same privileges I do. This past weekend in the grocery store, I overheard people speaking loudly in the produce section about how difficult medical travel was to navigate outside of the GNWT. As well, I've gotten feedback from a constituent whose company helps folks in the regions access medical travel supports for children. Their stories are down right depressing, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure my colleagues can and will relay those frustrating accounts in the days and months to come about their regions.

Mr. Speaker, as 19 MLAs, one of the topics we could almost all universally agree on is that medical travel needs improvement. I'll have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Great Slave. Members' statements. Member from Range Lake.

Member’s Statement 76-20(1): Health Care Sustainability

Mr. Speaker, of all the institutions that are important to Canadians and that unite us, few are as cherished as universal public health care. No matter who we are, we all proudly pay into the same system and trust it will be there for us when we need it the most. It's a public service we've enjoyed longer than many of us can remember yet it remains incumbent upon every generation to ensure health care remains in public hands where it belongs. That is why my constituents are very concerned with the GNWT's increasing reliance on private agencies in the NWT health care system. This is undermining public health care and impacting the morale of our health care workers.

Over the last few years, the government has turned to private agency nurses as a stop gap solution to retain health care work in the Northwest Territories. Year after year, this nursing shortage has grown without any solutions. Now to keep health services available, the government is advertising for temporary private workers to fly in and out at a hefty price to taxpayers. These agency nurses are paid far more than local professionals, recieving higher wages, as well as lucrative bonuses and per diems. They come with little understanding of our communities and no connection to our residents. In turn stifling the ability to make meaningful connections for Northerners with their health care providers. The more we rely on private agencies, the more we are undermining our own local workforce. I fear our government is sending a message to our health care workers that they are worth less than those who come from the south.

It is understandable that in order to keep our health care services available that gaps in the system need to be filled but at some point a line needs to be drawn. Why are we spending so much money on private agencies when our nurses are underpaid and undervalued? What does it say about our health care system when we make it more attractive to health care workers to leave permanent jobs for ununionized private agencies? It cannot be true that this government is prioritizing private profits over the needs of public health care workers. This is just another example of how underfunding health care is the first step towards health care privatization. This is privatization by stealth, Mr. Speaker.

Building failure into the public system creates space for private agencies to move in, and that's exactly what has happened. We need to treat our health care workers with the respect and dignity they deserve and offer them wages and benefits that will keep them in the North and keep them working for Northerners. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Range Lake. Members' statements. Member from from the Sahtu.

Member’s Statement 77-20(1): Holdover Wildfire Assessments

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, holdover fires is inevitable in many parts of the Northwest Territories, a harsh reminder of last summer's wildfire disasters. NWT residents not only remember; they never forgot the devastation and most importantly losses. It is unimaginable the trauma that family displacements left with direct losses.

Mr. Speaker, these fires smolder through the winter only to return in the spring and are becoming a huge cause for concern amongst researchers and fire managers. Mr. Speaker, as of January the 1st, Alberta wildfires is reporting 51 active wildfires in the province a notice of reality, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, last summer was a unprecedented year for wildfires throughout Canada. The Northwest Territories seen the loss of 4 million hectares. Mr. Speaker, by no means I share this statement to residents on reliving the past or the trauma, only taking a proactive measure on fire management readiness and preparedness with the first step on holdover fire assessments. Later I will have questions for the appropriate Minister. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from the Sahtu. Members' statements. Member from Frame Lake.

Member’s Statement 78-20(1): Indigenous Languages Month

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the Minister's earlier statement about Indigenous Languages Month. The GNWT has been clear about the need for language revival and preservation in this year's Indigenous Languages Month campaign, which I will quote from directly: The loss of Indigenous languages is an ongoing challenge in our territory and around the world. To reverse the loss of language and culture and keep Indigenous languages alive and thriving, they must be spoken in homes and communities.

While the statement about homes and communities is true, and we should be proud that NWT is currently the jurisdiction with the largest rate of Indigenous speakers, this rate is in steep decline, Mr. Speaker. According to the latest census data, we lost 25 percent of our Indigenous language speakers between 2016 and 2021 alone. If we truly want to reverse the loss of language and culture, Indigenous languages must be taught in school. And similar to French language schooling, this could be established as a right at the territorial level. Nunavut did it in 2009 with the passing of the Inuit Language Protection Act. Quebec has had legal provisions regarding the right to education in Indigenous languages since the late 1970s. As a result of this, four in ten First Nation children in Quebec can speak their language. This is double the rate of the NWT. In the NWT, there is one exception we can look to which has begun to turn the tide of language loss in the NWT.

The Tlicho language currently has more youth speakers than those 65 and older. This is a direct result of the leadership and dedication of the Tlicho people who have ensured Tlicho is not only taught as a second language but is actually a language of instruction. We could follow this example and complete the vision that this Assembly had when it gave official status to our Indigenous languages by enacting the right to education in Indigenous languages.

Thankfully much of the work towards this has already been done by the previous Assembly. It was a key recommendation of the Standing Committee on Government Operations when it reviewed the Official Languages Act less than a year ago. Recommendation of the four of the committee was that the Department of Education, Culture and Employment implement an exercisable right for Northerners to full K to 12 immersion in each local Indigenous official language. We have the opportunity now to pick up where the previous Assembly left off, and I look forward to continuing that discussion with my colleagues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member from the Mackenzie Delta.

Member’s Statement 79-20(1): Social Passing and Education

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it's very difficult to sit back as an elected official and watch as our young people are being neglected. This is exactly what is happening with our education system, especially in our smaller communities. The larger regional centres and Yellowknife seem to be benefitting more in this area.

Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago I did my Member's statement on the income support program. In my statement, I referred to the recipients who are young adults who are being let down by the education system. The young eager students are being socially promoted to graduating with no academic skills to go on to postsecondary schools because they do not qualify. Then these students are at the doors of the income support office only to be stuck there.

Mr. Speaker, there are other alternative measures that the department can explore instead of placing our young people in a failing environment. Back in the 1980s, the department used a different approach to deal with students who were not academically ready to pursue postsecondary institutions.

Students were given the opportunity to participate in the trades component within the high school curriculum. And these are success stories that I have witnessed. We have former students who are now journeymen in their chosen trade and owners of their own companies.

Mr. Speaker, we have to start investing in our greatest resource, and that resource is our youth. It's time for the education department to focus on getting our students ready for the real world and implementing these similar programs within our high school curriculum. These students need career paths where they can have a secure future for themselves and their families. We do not want them to be knocking at the doors of the income support office and not coming out. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Mackenzie Delta. Members' statements. Member from Tu NedheWiilideh.

Member’s Statement 80-20(1): Representation of Indigenous People in the Public Service

Mr. Speaker, the North is full of dedicated Indigenous people who are eager to contribute their great skills to our public services.

In the 19th Assembly, I was closely involved in looking for ways to increase Indigenous hiring to the GNWT workforce, participating in the reports on the Indigenous representation in the Northwest Territories public service. I want to thank my colleagues at the time who participated and the chair and the cochair, Rylund Johnson and Frieda Martselos, as well as the Member from Kam Lake and the other Member from Inuvik Twin Lakes. A lot of hard work went into this subject in the 19th Assembly because it was vital that we make our public service representative of our population. Unfortunately, successive governments have been working towards these goals for decades but the number of Indigenous people in our public service has remained the same. I know now that the Ministers are preparing a work plan to increase Indigenous hiring in their departments, so now this government has another great opportunity to shape our and start making meaningful action towards achieving a diverse public service that is truly representative of the Northwest Territories. This is why I want to mention some of the things I'm hearing from my communities.

I have heard about several instances and situations of my constituents on this matter that are very concerning. These constituents are proud Indigenous people who have a lot to offer the GNWT, were forced out of their positions and replaced by nonIndigenous staff. One constituent worked for 12 years before she was forced out of their position so their supervisor could accommodate a P3 transfer. This constituent is not only one example. I have seen this happen all too often in my departments. We can talk about representation of workforce all we want. We can write action plans, strike committees, and give speeches in the House about our priorities for every department but we need to follow those words with action. Action means we cannot keep turning a blind eye to managers and administrators ignoring Ministers' guidelines and hire their friends and family instead.

Hearing these stories from my constituents tells me that we are moving forward but moving backwards and that if we keep moving backwards then our public service will be stuck at 30 percent of Indigenous hires. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Premier at the appropriate time. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Tu NedheWiilideh. Members' statements. Member from Deh Cho.

Member’s Statement 81-20(1): Water levels and Climate Change

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Last year the Deh Cho and the Mackenzie River reached historical water levels across the NWT. There are many news stories about this, and many people shared their own photos online of receding shorelines up and down the Valley. These low water levels caused a lot of problems for many people, from harvesters unable to cross the river to go hunting to tugboats running aground and getting stuck, to barge deliveries cancelled and unable to deliver goods to Norman Wells and Tulita. These are just some of the issues low water levels have caused us in the last year.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't just the Mackenzie River with low water levels. The Liard River, the Great Slave Lake also experienced historic low water levels over the past two years. In fact, Great Slave Lake is currently at its lowest water level ever recorded. Both Great Slave Lake and Mackenzie River water levels remain extremely low largely due to hot and dry conditions in northern Alberta and British Columbia and the southern NWT. This is also impacting hydro electric energy generation across the NWT and other provinces. What's worse, Mr. Speaker, is that it's not only the NWT who are experiencing this either. Most of western Canada has been in a drought for the last two years. Alberta is experiencing extremely low water levels in many parts of the province due to below average snowpack and precipitation in recent months resulting in less runoff to rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. This is contributing to widespread dry conditions and water shortages.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, recently Alberta is beginning conserving its water usage provincewide. Alberta has established a drought command team, and they are encouraging people to plan for water shortage during 2024, including conserving water now. This is an extremely troubling situation. Climate change is real and happening now, and this is further evidence to that. This is also partly what fueled the worst fire season ever.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from the Deh Cho, your time is up.

To conclude my statement.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is also partly what fueled the worst fire season ever had last summer. Our government needs to respond to this, Mr. Speaker. I will have questions for the Minister of ECC. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from the Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member from Monfwi.

Member’s Statement 82-20(1): Elders and Housing Northwest Territories Mortgages

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, [Translation] this item that I am going to talk about is about housing mortgage and the policies that are in place and how they work with people in the community. This mortgage has been in place for a long time since 1978, and it's affecting the people in the community and now we have a lot of elders that are over 60 that are dealing with this issue. That is what I'm going to talk about. [Translation ends]

Mr. Speaker, I have seniors in my riding who entered into mortgage agreements not understanding what exactly they were signing because there was no interpreter. In many cases, these clients fell behind on payments, and Housing NWT provided refinance agreements as the only option to maintain their homes. Mr. Speaker, people signed these documents and follow along with the options Housing NWT provides but, in many cases, they do not understand what they are committing to. There is little meaningful effort from Housing NWT to ensure clients, mostly elders, understand the process and what they are signing.

Mr. Speaker, constituents in my regions have a mortgage with Housing NWT but they don't even know how much they owe. To these people, it's a mortgage sentence for life. Many people don't know how they will ever pay for their home in their lifetime. Housing NWT does not appear to be providing annual mortgage statements to clients. For clients that have fallen into arrears, they may eventually be referred to collections. In the collection process, clients have to deal with the law firm. There is no language or liaison person assigned to support clients in arrears and specifically for elders in arrears.

Mr. Speaker, this is a disservice to our elders. Seniors who have been paying into mortgages for 10, 20 years should be given more support from Housing NWT so they can become homeowners. With a mortgage, Housing NWT clients are on track to homeownership. This is something Housing NWT should be supporting, not penalizing. Often there are language barriers but dealing with bureaucracy and government administration is also a barrier. What is being done to support elders, especially those who are residential school survivors, to be able to age in place in their homes and in their communities?

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from Monfwi. Members' statements. Member from Yellowknife North.

Member’s Statement 83-20(1): Funding for Non-Governmental Organizations

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to reflect today on the problematic way that our government funds and works with nonprofit organizations who are providing essential social services. Yesterday in Committee of the Whole, I raised the urgent situation of the Spruce Bough supportive living housing facility where the nonprofit Yellowknife Women Society is housing and providing wraparound services for 26 people with complex medical needs and addictions issues.

Ever since this facility opened its doors in 2020 with capital funding support from the feds, it's been cobbling together shortterm operational funding, mostly from the GNWT. Now, a lot of our basic social safety net is operated by nonprofits. They put roofs over the heads of seniors or the underhoused population or women and children fleeing violence. They provide daycare to children so their parents can go to work or school and put roofs over the heads of their families. These are services that we can't allow to fail. And if they do, the government is under considerable pressure to step in and take over these services to stop people from dying or to stop the economy from grinding to a halt. And we've seen the GNWT have to step in and the extra cost of that.

In recent years, the GNWT has taken over the day shelters and sobering centres in both Inuvik and Yellowknife, and we see in our supplementary estimates that that facility in Yellowknife alone costs us an extra $2 million a year on top of what it used to cost to have a nonprofit running. The reason, of course, that NGOs provide these services more cheaply is that they rely heavily on volunteer and low paid labour. We rely on goodwill, but that is a fragile currency that can easily dissolve.

And yet we seem to treat these essential social services as if they were any other contract. Pretend that we are the one in control, that we can drive costs and set the terms, and that any NGO would be lucky to be chosen as the winning bidder. But in many cases, we need those few nonprofits as much or more than they need our funding.

The GNWT has done reports on how to better support NGOs in general but there are differences between the government throwing chunks of funding here and there to host fun community events and throwing shortterm

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from Yellowknife North, your time is up.

Unanimous consent granted

I was saying there's a difference between throwing chunks of funding haphazardly for community events and throwing shortterm chunks of funding haphazardly to keep roofs over peoples' heads. And so I don't want to stand here and plead with the government to have a heart and please donate money to these heroic organizations because that's part of what got us into this mess thinking that we can just offer charity when we have extra money in our pockets. I'm asking this government to think practically about what services our residents expect and how we can make longer term plans to collaborate with NGO partners with stable (audio).

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member from Yellowknife Centre.

Member’s Statement 84-20(1): Family Doctors

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It comes as no surprise to you, and all the Members of this House, that how important it is to have a family doctor on your health care journey. So whether you live in the Mackenzie Delta or you live in the Sahtu, I can tell you it matters to them. I mean how many times have people from Aklavik driven all the way to Inuvik to find a new doctor that they have to explain their story to them over and over again? How many times does someone from Deline have to take that goat trail all the way to the Wells to explain their story why they need their prescription changed or adjusted, Mr. Speaker? Or you live in Yellowknife and you have to explain to the locum doctor that you've never met before how many times your diabetes medication has been changed and tried and yet they continue to offer the same thing?

Mr. Speaker, it's well known that family doctors are key. They know your story. They know you. Even the Canadian Medical Journal points out about the relationship is number one. That's the difference between a family doctor and a locum.

I've reached out to the department of health and I asked how many people are on the waiting list. A nontransparency list in other words, Mr. Speaker. A list that doesn't exist but apparently they're keeping numbers.

I'm sorry to report it wasn't 100 people waiting to have a doctor, Mr. Speaker. It wasn't two. It wasn't 300 people. It wasn't four. Mr. Speaker, I could auctioneer this off for another ten minutes. Why don't we jump to the conclusion?

The department said 2,000 people are sitting on the nontransparency waiting list to see if they can get a family doctor, Mr. Speaker. That's a shameful process in this first world country in a territory as rich as ours. My goodness, Mr. Speaker, a family doctor should be a right, and that should be it.

So I asked them how can doctors refuse patients? Their answer was pretty much bare. I ask them about how do they get more doctors? They send me to Practice NWT as the result. And as a matter of fact, looking at that website it looks for attractive as they spell out the benefits of being a locum doctor better than they spell out to be a regular doctor in our communities, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, having a doctor is key whether you're in the early season of your life, whether you're new, or you're renewed like some of us and certainly maybe even those who are heading into the winter of their life. That special relationship is key. And as this government unilaterally ponders their policy and how to carve out $50 million here and there, it has Northerners worried. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll have questions later today.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife Centre. Members' statements.