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Legislative assembly briefs

MLAs fight women’s cuts, question health reform, and invite Mickey Mouse to Yellowknife


Ordinary MLAs spent much of the week reviewing Finance Minister John Todd’s latest budget.

They’ve had to swallow most cuts, but this week they passed a motion recommending the government not go ahead with a planned 10 per cent cut to women’s organizations in the NWT.

The attack on cuts to women’s groups was led by Hay River MLA Jane Groenewegen and supported by most ordinary MLAs.

Inuvik MLA Floyd Roland and Thebacha MLA Michael Miltenberger voted against the motion and the members of the cabinet abstained.

Info on consultant sought

MLAs also wanted more information about a Toronto-based consultant the government hired to do a review of the GNWT’s health and social services department.

Yellowknife South MLA Seamus Henry wanted to know why the government hired Med-Emerg International Incorporated and not a northern firm.

Other MLAs wanted to know how the consultants planned to talk to people in the Northwest Territories about health care reform before completing their report.

Health Minister Kelvin Ng told MLAs the consultants report would include a review of health care facilities like the hospitals in Iqaluit and Inuvik.

Funding for solvent abuse program

In other assembly news, Health and Social Services Minister Kelvin Ng announced the GNWT will continue to fund a program to treat adolescents for solvent abuse.

The federal government cut funding for the Adolescent Solvent Abuse Treatment Program last year, but the GNWT Department of Social Services agreed to provide funding to the end of the fiscal year.

Under GNWT funding, the Yellowknife-based program will include treatment of solvent abuse as well as alcohol and drug abuse for both aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth.

Ng quoted a survey which found that more than one third of northern youth between 15-24 are heavy drinkers and have used marijuana or hashish. Thirteen per cent have sniffed solvents.

“Successful early intervention in the lives of young drug and alcohol abusers will mean fewer addicted adults in the future,” Ng stated.

Mickey to visit NWT?

Yellowknife South MLA Seamus Henry wants to invite Mickey Mouse and the Disney Corporation to the Northwest Territories.

Last week, the Speaker of the legislative assembly ruled it wasn’t inappropriate to wear Mickey Mouse ties in the assembly.

Henry said the Disney Corp. has been benefiting from the free advertising from Mackenzie Delta MLA David Krutko’s Mickey Mouse ties. He said he will invite a Disney representative to appear before the legislative assembly’s rules committee.

“They can also promote the north’s fashions in the south, but also our northern environment and lifestyle. Given Mr. Krutko’s contacts with Mickey Mouse, perhaps he can link us with Walt Disney and invite them to the north,” Henry said in a member’s statement.

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